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Lonzo Ball updates and the Bulls point guard battle royale

Will Gottlieb Avatar
October 2, 2023

Lonzo Ball made an appearance at the Chicago Bulls’ Media Day Monday morning and seemed to be in good spirits as he continues his ongoing rehab.

Though there are no set timelines for recovery or rehabilitation, Ball says he is about “halfway through the rehab process.”

“The surgery was a really big surgery,” Ball said. “We were all together and came together with a plan moving forward. It’s not really I wouldn’t say a set timeline. But I pretty much have this whole year to get as healthy as possible and be ready to go next season. So like I said, I’m taking each week just trying to stay positive and take it like that. I know I’ll be going back and forth from here and LA just because that’s what my rehab person is out there. I’ll be with the team sometimes and out there sometimes but I don’t have to set dates yet.”

As for Ball, who is now 620 days since his original surgery, he continues to get support from his friends and family who have been in his corner along the way. Still, he misses basketball, the game he loves.

“I just miss playing,” Ball said. “It’s a big part of my life that’s gone. I mean, I’ve been playing organized hoops since I was six. So to be out these last two years, that’s been the toughest part, just not being able to physically get on the court and put the jersey on and go to battle. But like I said, I’m here to help in any way I can. I’m looking forward to the season.”

Ball seemed optimistic when asked whether he would play basketball again for the Bulls some day.

“Yeah, for sure,” Ball declared. “That’s definitely my goal.”

“I definitely plan on playing again. After surgery three, I feel like it’s going well so far, no setbacks. So for me it’s just keep my head up, just keep doing the work.”

We’re looking forward to seeing him back on the court.

Point guard battle royale

The relationship between the Chicago Bulls and its point guards is a complex one.

But for his team, there are still questions that need answering, though there seems to be a weight off the team knowing for sure that he won’t be playing this season.

“I think last year also we were thinking, ‘When Lonzo comes back it’ll be different.’ I think this year we have a clear picture obviously he’s not going to be back and we have to find other ways to run our offense without putting so much pressure on Zach and DeMar handling the ball and scoring, doing everything,” said Nikola Vucevic.

Entering the 2023-24 season, the Bulls know Lonzo Ball ain’t walking through that door. And almost two full seasons removed from going down, the Bulls still don’t have a replacement secured in a role.

This isn’t a bad thing. Point guard by committee can be effective and since Billy Donovan wouldn’t commit to a starter at the lead guard spot, it appears Jevon Carter, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu will be competing for the role.

“I think Coby is more experienced now to handle that responsibility, so is Ayo going into his third year now after what he’s gone through his first two years,” Donovan said. “Like I said, I don’t know Jevon well enough from that position, but from what I’ve seen and what I watched on film, he’s been back there and played that position. We’ll have to look at different options there.”

Each of these guys present different strengths, so it will be fascinating to see which of the candidates does best to enhance the level of play from Vucevic, DeRozan and LaVine.

The Bulls need dogged defenders and three-point hunters. Carter profiles as exactly that. But he also provides a fearless vocal leadership that the Bulls lack.

“Yeah, I am,” Carter said of whether he can step into a leadership role on the team. “I think I just need to do a better job of learning how to deliver the message. Because everybody’s different, not everybody takes everything the same way. So it’s just learning the guys and seeing what they like, don’t like. But I can say I will be a vocal leader for this team, yeah. I’m going to voice my opinion.”

White has grown immensely over his time with the Bulls, adjusting from score-first starter to facilitator to bench spark plug. That’s taught him a lot, but still, he seeks a steady job.

“Honestly, over the years, it might sound weird, but I kind of learned and grown to love the chaos and unpredictability of my situations,” White said. “I kind of love being in those challenging situations, kind of just to prove to myself what I’m really made of and how I continue to fight through everything. This year whatever role I get, hopefully it stays stable and I’m in that role for the majority of the year and I continue to grow and find that consistency that I’m looking for.”

White’s flexible skill set provides Donovan with optionality to play him as a primary guard, an off-guard, or both.

“The biggest thing is just being vocal, being that leader, being that guy that can settle everybody down,” White said when asked what the team needs in a starting point guard. “Getting those guys in spots where they feel comfortable. Honestly just commanding the show, I think a lot of times DeMar and Zach find themselves bringing the ball up and then initiating the offense. I think they need someone to do that for them, and then let them focus on what their game is which is putting that ball in the basket.”

Don’t discount Dosunmu either.

I think someone’s progress is not always particularly a direct path upward,” Donovan said of Dosunmu. “I think he knows the things that he needs to get better at as it relates to finishing at the rim, decision-making, shooting the basketball — him being efficient and confident. That’s the biggest thing for young guys. I think for Ayo, even though it was challenging at times for him last year, it may end up being the best thing for his growth to actually have to go through some adversity and challenges like he did. Because he handled it great not only in the season but in the offseason as well.”

Though Lonzo Ball said he plans to play for the Bulls again some day, but what happens until then?

We’ll start to get a clearer picture of that in Nashville tomorrow.

More from Media Day

[DeRozan, Williams contract extensions loom over make-or-break season]

[Karnisovas: “We want to get in the Playoffs”]

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