Bulls’ Lonzo Ball to undergo third knee surgery and expected to miss most of 2023-24 season: Sources

Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a third left knee surgery that is expected to cost him most if not all of the 2023-24 season, league sources told. The athletic. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Ball was shut down for the 2022-23 season in February after having his last knee surgery in September 2022.
  • The 25-year-old last appeared in court on January 14, 2022, before being diagnosed with a small meniscus tear and bone contusion.
  • In 2021-2022, he appeared in 35 games for Chicago, averaging 13.0 points, 5.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.

The athletic‘s direct analysis:

What a third knee surgery means to Ball

Questions that were whispered will now be asked loud and often. A third procedure jeopardizes Ball’s future. If he misses the 2023-2024 season, Ball will lose 2 1/2 consecutive seasons. If his third surgery saves his career, Ball may not be back on an NBA court until October 2024. If Ball recovers and returns to play, it would be an achievement. But it’s fair to wonder at this point if he’ll be able to regain his form. — Mayberry

How are the Bulls adapting?

Ball has another two years contract for $42 million. There are hardship provisions in the collective bargaining agreement that allow the Bulls to receive roster and salary reductions for extended injury-related absences. Expect the Bulls to petition the league bureau and get full protection. But it only goes so far. The Bulls need a point guard to replace Ball. Without cap space or significant design capital, the Bulls are in trouble. A trade for another lead guard is the most likely route. Sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu filled in for Ball before Patrick Beverley signed as a free agent in February. Ball’s prognosis could increase Beverley’s chances of signing again. — Mayberry


Following initial surgery on January 20, 2022, the team gave Ball a six to eight week timeline, but he missed the Bulls’ remaining 47 regular season and playoff games of the 2021–22 season. Seven weeks later, coach Billy Donovan said Ball was still having problems with his knee from the bone bruise.

In late September, Ball underwent arthroscopic debridement of his left knee and was expected to miss the start of the season. Chicago appeared to prepare for Ball’s early absence by signing Goran Dragic in the off-season.

The day before his surgery, Ball was honest in his evaluation of his injury recovery process, telling reporters, “I still can’t play basketball. I can’t run or jump.”

Ball added: “There is a range of 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have no strength. And I can’t catch myself. So until I can do those things I can’t play. I did rehab. Things got better and better. But it wasn’t to the point where I could go out and actually go out and run or jump at full speed. So surgery was the next step.”

In 2018, the 6-foot-6 guard underwent arthroscopic surgery in the same knee.

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(Photo: Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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