Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a cartilage transplant in his left knee


(670 The Score) Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will soon undergo a cartilage transplant in his injured left knee, the team and his agency announced Thursday evening.

It will mark the 25-year-old Ball’s third procedure on his ailing left knee in a 14-month stretch. He had surgery in January 2022 to repair a torn meniscus and then had what the team called a cleanup procedure this past September, and he has been out all season rehabbing. The Bulls officially shut down Ball in February as he continued to deal with discomfort when he ramped up his running and cutting to full speed.

Ball will be out indefinitely after his upcoming procedure, and the Bulls will provide updates on a potential timeline "when appropriate," the team said in a release. Ball hasn't played in a game since Jan. 14, 2022.

“My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates," Ball said in a statement. "This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what keeps me moving forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball.”

As Ball’s rehab process has continued to stall, there are concerns about whether he’ll ever be able to resume his career, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier Thursday, and the possibility exists that Ball may need to miss the entire 2023-’24 season to rehab. Amid those concerns, the Bulls have again reiterated their full support for getting Ball back on the floor.

“I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey," executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. "This has been a long and challenging road for him, and this decision has been a difficult one to make. The organization is behind him, and he has our full support. Our training and medical staff continue their commitment to Lonzo’s rehabilitation and to working with him throughout this next phase to ensure his healthy return to basketball.”

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’s the catalyst of the Bulls’ transition game, a superb passer and a strong defender.

Without Ball, the Bulls have struggled this season. With 14 games remaining in their regular season, the Bulls are 31-37 and sit 11th in the East.

Ball is in the second season of a four-year, $80-million contract. He also had left knee surgery in July 2018 when he played for the Lakers.

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.

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