(670 The Score) Expressing disappointment and reflecting on a trying past four months as his left knee has continued to ail him, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball on Tuesday explained the recent events that led to him to the decision to have surgery this Wednesday. The operation in Los Angles will mark the third left knee surgery of Ball’s career and his second in eight months.
“The whole summer was basically meeting with specialists, talking with different doctors and rehabbing,” Ball said on a Zoom call. “We were doing everything we could to stay out of surgery and get back on the court.
Unfortunately, we were at a point where we used the whole summer pretty much just to work and get as far as I can. The pain has gone down, but say the range was this far, now it’s still like this. I still can’t play basketball, so unfortunately, I got to take the next step. And that’s surgery.
“I really can’t run. Can’t run or jump. There’s like a range from 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have like no force and I can’t like catch myself. Until I can do those things, I can’t play. I did rehab. It was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and actually go out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”
Ball underwent surgery on the meniscus in his left knee in late January. He and the Bulls both expected that he would return by season’s end, but every time he went to ramp up close to full speed in his rehab process, he continued to feel discomfort and couldn’t partake in basketball activities.
Ball also dealt with a bone bruise in addition to the meniscus injury.
That pain continued for Ball over the summer, and he admitted that doctors – both the specialists that he has seen and the Bulls’ contingent that has accompanied him to appointments and been at his side in rehab – have few answers. The operation he’ll have Wednesday is a arthroscopic debridement, and the hope is the procedure will provide clarity at long last.
“From my understanding, they’re going in there to see what it is,” Ball said. “Because it’s not necessarily showing up on the MRI, but it’s clear there’s something there that’s not right. So they’re going to go in, look at it and whatever needs to be done is going to be done.”
Ball acknowledged his knee pain is affecting him in everyday life as well.
“It’s every day, even going up stairs and stuff, it’s still painful,” Ball said. “Like I said, it’s definitely something I’ve never dealt with. Even the doctors are surprised about it a little bit. We’re all working together to figure this thing out.”
Ball played in 35 games last season, averaging 13 points and 5.1 assists while also shooting 42.3% from 3-point range on high volume. He was the catalyst of the Bulls’ transition game and a strong defender, and it was no coincidence the team played its best basketball when he was on the floor.
The Bulls haven’t placed a timetable on Ball’s return, only saying he’ll be re-evaluated four to six weeks after the surgery. Even if the operation and initial recovery goes smoothly and to plan, Ball figures to have a long ramp-up process and the Bulls will likely be cautious with him.
Ball also doesn’t have a clue when he might return, though he added missing the entire season “is not in my mind right now.”
“We’re going to do the surgery, we’re going to take it slow and just go based off how I’m feeling,” Ball said. “If all goes well, hopefully it’s not too long and I’m back out there playing.”
Ball only knows he’ll miss at least a significant portion of the season and then is hoping for the best. He’ll do his knee rehab primarily in Chicago and be around the Bulls.
“This is all that’s left,” Ball said. “It’s something that has to be done. I’m going in with the best doctors. I’ve got 100% confidence in them and I think I’ll be back to normal.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.