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Closing Five: Justin Lewis' knee injury is awful news for the Bulls

Will Gottlieb Avatar
August 12, 2022

Weโ€™re in the dead of the offseason and thereโ€™s not a whole lot to discuss. But a few things come out related to the Chicago Bulls every week, so Iโ€™m going to start putting together a short round up to make sure you have all the info you need from the week:

1. Justin Lewis knee injury

The Chicago Bulls cannot have nice things.

Last night, KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported Bulls rookie two-way player Justin Lewis suffered a knee injury that the team believes could be an ACL tear. We’ll find out more shortly, but what a blow for the Bulls and especially Lewis.

I’ve been the conductor of the Justin Lewis hype train since I got to see him in Las Vegas Summer League. He’s a big wing shooter with a lot of potential to fill one of the most important roles in the game. As an undrafted rookie and two-way player out of Marquette, he’s fighting for his NBA life every day. A serious, year-long injury could be a massive blow.

I really hope the Bulls keep Lewis and work with him through his injury. There is enough potential there to invest in him while he recovers.

Meanwhile, buried at the bottom of Johnson’s report was more vague news about whether Lonzo Ball will be ready for the start of training camp …

2. Latest with Lonzo

Lonzo Ball tore his meniscus on January 14. Today is August 12. His initial timetable was 4-6 weeks. It’s been seven months and we still don’t know if he’ll be ready to start next season.

In Johnson’s report, he says the status of Ball’s “readiness for the start of training camp is unknown.”

Brutal.

ESPN’s Jamal Collier was on TV this week discussing some optimism coming from Ball’s camp about him being ready to play at the beginning of next season:

Collier also went on to say he expects the Bulls to slowly ease him into form to make sure he is 100 percent healthy, and I very much agree with that.

The Bulls have to be extremely careful with Ball moving forward, regardless of his readiness to start the year. Even aside from this injury, it’s much more important they have a healthy Ball in the playoffs (assuming they make it), than for the start of the season.

The Bulls unbelievable stretch of bad luck at the point guard position is unprecedented. It’s a never-ending shitshow from Derrick Rose’s ACL, to meniscus, to orbital bone to general soreness to Ball and Alex Caruso’s injuries this past season.

Please give us one healthy season.

3. Vucevic Extension in the Works?

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reported that the Bulls and Nikola Vucevic could be looking into an extension.

A source said both sides want him to stay with the team beyond the last year of his contract this coming season and will have initial discussions on what that might look like when training camp begins in the fall.

Important to note:

  • Vucevic is eligible for a 4-year, $118 million extension
  • He can sign an extension with the Bulls any time before June 30, 2023

I broke down the Bulls salary cap situation and gave my thoughts about bringing back Vucevic earlier this week. You can read about that here.

Reply in the comments or @ me on twitter with what you think the Bulls should do with Vucevic’s next deal.

4. Rankings and Projections

The early NBA rankings and projections are coming in from around the media, and the Bulls have been rated higher than I would have thought.

Projections, however, have not been as kind to the Bulls.

At the end of the day, the Bulls didn’t do anything terrible this offseason, they just didn’t get better. While everyone else around the league is improving their championship equity, the Bulls have not. They didn’t even address the two areas of need (shooting and rim protection) they said they needed after the season. In that sense, I think it’s fair to think the Bulls will take a bit of a step back next season with health and regression looming over their heads.

5. Bulls at the Drew

DeMar DeRozan has been the face of the Drew League this summer. He’s bringing along some friends as well.

Patrick Williams played with DeRozan last weekend and put up 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Dalen Terry played the following day on a team with Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu.

Not putting much, if any, stock into these performances, but it’s always fun to see Bulls players in these kinds of environments.

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