Lonzo Ball to again sit season; sees Bulls as 'big what-if'

August 21, 2023, 1:29 PM

Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball said that he will miss the 2023-24 NBA season, but he said he feels back "on track" following a cartilage transplant in his left knee in March.

During an appearance Monday morning on the "From the Point by Trae Young" podcast hosted by the Atlanta Hawks point guard, Ball -- who has not played in an NBA game since Jan. 14, 2022 -- said his recovery has been a long process, but he sounded encouraged following a third surgery on his knee since his last game.

"When I first got hurt, we didn't really know what it was," Ball said during the podcast. "I was seeing all type of different doctors and stuff. I was just kind of going up and down. That was really hard for me because I just didn't know what the next day was going to be like.

"At least now, I got the surgery. We got a plan moving forward. We've been on plan. I'm on track. Hopefully, everything works out. I just leave it up to God and do the best I can and live with the results."

Ball signed a four-year, $80 million contract with the Bulls in 2021 and played in 35 games during the 2021-22 season, but injuries have prevented him from taking the court since. Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night in June that the team did not expect Ball to play this season.

Chicago was the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference before Ball's injury that season, off to a 27-13 start when he injured his knee and spending most of the first half atop the conference. The team has not been able to make up for his absence, finishing 40-42 last season and losing in the play-in tournament to Miami without him.

"It's going to be a big what-if," Ball said. "I feel bad, just for the [Bulls'] GMs because I feel like they made the perfect team around me. I felt like that was the most I've ever been involved in an organization. And I finally got the perfect team that I felt like could fit my game and play my way and really just do what I wanted to do.

"That injury -- I'm still going through it right now, but that one messed me up early because I felt like we had a chance and never got to see what it was."