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Lonzo Ball was back at the Chicago Bulls practice facility getting shots up after Monday’s practice.
“Yeah, it was great,” Billy Donovan said of having Ball back in the Advocate Center. “He came in yesterday, I watched him work out and spent some time with them. You know, it’s great to see him out here shooting and doing some of those things.”
Though it was great to see Ball jumping and dribbling and moving around beyond just standstill jumpers, he remains far from a return. For now, he’s working his way up to full speed running, which he is not yet able to do.
“He’s able to do some agility work,” Donovan said. “He is doing some some jogging on the treadmill, and he’s able to shoot. I think that’s probably good for his his mental state that he can actually go on the court and do things.”
“So he’s progressing,” Donovan continued. “He’s getting better and I think the biggest thing will be you know, once he starts running and is cleared for contact and activity and being able to play, is how he responds. But he’s working hard and feels a lot better than he did last year.”
The plan for now is to have Ball be around the team more and more, but he will still be going between Chicago and LA as he continues to progress in his rehab.
He’ll go back and forth. He’ll go back and forth with with his medical people there in California. So it’s great to have him come in. He was in a week or two ago. We actually saw him in LA came in here for a few days. So he’s been pretty present in terms of the contact with us, which has been great.”
Ball, who has been out since January 14, 2022 is keeping his head up through the adversity.
“I’m just trying to stay positive first and foremost,” Ball said on the broadcast of the Bulls-Kings game on Saturday. “I think that’s the first part. Making sure your mind is still in it. And then making sure your body follows that. That’s what I’ve been doing, taking it day by day. And just giving myself the best chance possible to come back.”
“I would say the main thing that keeps me going is knowing the main goal and that’s to get back and play,” Ball continued. “The more you pout, the worse it’s going to be. Stay positive, keep your head down, keep working.”
Prior to the Saturday game, Donovan re-emphasized that Ball has yet to undertake any full-speed sprinting, and while that was the plan, he has not suffered any setbacks. When someone has been out as long as Ball has, it’s important to remember that patience is key and that the timelines are flexible.
“He’s doing a lot of mobility work,” Donovan said. “He’s doing different things on the court. He hasn’t done any sprinting yet. I think everybody medically is pleased with the way it’s progressing. Some of these movements he’s doing now caused him pain before and aren’t causing him pain. I know there was talk in January of him sprinting. I don’t want to sit here and say he’s behind schedule. I don’t think that’s the case because it’s going well.”
With that in mind, Ball has not experienced any pain or setbacks with the things he has done so far in his rehab. And while that is a great sign, it does not mean he is pain-free while sprinting full speed. He isn’t quite there yet in his progress.
“But with the injury and the amount of time that he’s been out, he may miss some target dates here and there,” Donovan continued. “But I don’t think anybody is alarmed about it. I think everybody is pretty pleased with the things he’s doing. The biggest thing for him that hopefully will help him get up to sprinting and running is to build up strength in his leg. That’s what they’re trying to do right now. But in terms of modalities and things he has done, he has responded really well. Until he starts running and cutting and moving, he’s not there yet because they want to get the strength back in his leg.”
It is perhaps not a coincidence the Bulls had Ball shooting around on the court nearest the media in the team’s first practice since Zach LaVine’s season-ending surgery announcement.
This fanbase is in desperate need of some positive news.
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