Artūras Karnišovas isn’t too optimistic about Lonzo Ball’s recovery nearly six months after the Chicago Bulls point guard suffered a knee injury.
The Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations expressed uncertainty about whether Ball will be ready for training camp during an on-air interview in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s NBA Summer League game against the Toronto Raptors.
“He is making progress. That’s all I can say,” Karnišovas said during the NBA TV broadcast. “It’s getting better, probably not as fast as we’d like, but it’s getting better. Hopefully he’ll be ready for training camp, (but) those are just our hopes.”
Karnišovas’s lack of optimism coincided with that of general manager Marc Eversley, who said on draft night last month that Ball was unable to scrimmage.
Ball was sidelined in January with a meniscus injury that ended his first season in Chicago. Before the injury, he averaged 13 points, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals, providing a suffocating defensive presence that anchored the Bulls in transition.
After weeks of trying to rehab without an operation, Ball underwent meniscus surgery and was eventually shut down for the rest of the season. His recovery was complicated by a deep bone bruise he suffered prior to the meniscus injury, forcing him to repeatedly call off efforts to return to full throttle due to lingering pain.
Ball was scheduled to return to a California specialist in May after the season ended, but the Bulls have provided only vague updates since then.
“It’s very frustrating”, Ball said during his exit interview on April 28. “This year we had a lot of promises and I don’t think they have been fulfilled, mainly due to many health problems. But you can’t change your past. I believe that everything happens for a reason. For me now it’s just about moving on and preparing.”
Injuries have been a constant detriment to Ball, who has yet to play a full season injury-free in his five years in the NBA. During his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, he suffered a sprained MCL, a torn ankle ligament, and injuries to his adductor, knee, hip flexor, shoulder, and thumb.
Ball has played just 64.6% of the total possible regular season games in his career and has never logged more than 63 games in a season. This pattern is a huge concern for the Bulls, who saw Ball as a game changer, and his injury a painful loss as their 2021-22 season came to a disappointing end.
There are two months left before Ball needs to be at full speed, or relatively close to it, for training camp. But warning bells may be in order if it’s not available by then.