CHICAGO (670 The Score) – The Bulls will continue to be really shorthanded for the foreseeable future.
Star guard Zach LaVine and point guard Lonzo Ball won’t travel on Chicago’s upcoming road trip as they each deal with different knee injuries, coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday before the Bulls hosted the Cavaliers at the United Center. That means they’ll each be sidelined for at least the next three games beyond Wednesday, as the Bulls begin a three-game road trip against the Bucks on Friday.
LaVine’s left knee ailment – listed as “soreness” on the official injury report – is responding well to treatment, Donovan shared in a dose of promising news. LaVine exited in the first quarter of a loss against the Warriors last Friday with discomfort, and he doesn’t have significant structural damage in his knee, the team has said. How long he'll be out remains unclear.
“He has responded well to therapy,” Donovan said. “He has been back on the floor. He hasn’t done any running, jumping, anything like that. He’s been able to shoot free throws. He’s been able to do strength training, those kind of things. He has responded well. I don’t have a return date for him at this point in time. But certainly, he feels a lot better yesterday and today than he did coming out of Golden State (on Friday).”
The news surrounding Ball is more concerning. He has missed Chicago’s past two games and has a bone contusion in his left knee. He didn’t respond well to the initial therapy he received on the knee, so the medical staff has switched to a new treatment.
“There wasn’t a great response to that, so that’s when he left to come back from the trip in Memphis,” Donovan said, referencing Ball returning to Chicago before the Bulls played the Grizzlies on Monday. “And now they’ve switched to a different kind of treatment for him and they’ll see how that treatment works out. And there will be another step after that, if we need to be. But right now, it’s just more just trying to help him just get healthy.”
Donovan was asked if surgery was a possibility for Ball but indicated that’s not on the team’s mind at this time.
“Obviously, you don’t want to do that for any player, right?” Donovan said of surgery. “We haven’t gotten to that point now, at least from what they’ve told me. I think the biggest thing right now are what are the steps that we can do to try to get him back and get him healthy?
“I haven’t gotten into detail with them about that other than, ‘Hey, we’ll try this treatment, we’ll try this therapy and see how it goes.’ And then whatever the next step is, that will be. But I haven’t been told what any next steps are going to be.”
The Bulls also don’t have a timeline for Ball’s return.
“A lot is going to depend how he responds to treatment to what he’s getting right now,” Donovan said. “That was why there was a reason to get him back as soon as possible from Memphis, because you just don’t want to waste days for any player.
Lavine is averaging 24.9 points per game, the 11th-best mark in the NBA entering Wednesday, on superb efficiency, shooting 49.1% overall and 41.2% on 3-pointers. Ball is averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
In better news, the Bulls will get guard Alex Caruso back Wednesday. He has been sidelined since Dec. 20 due to a foot injury and because he landed in COVID-19 protocols. He’s expected to play 22-24 minutes, Donovan said.
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.