Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is not even close to a return, according to reports. He underwent a second surgery on his left knee in September, and his rehab process has been really slow.
The Chicago Bulls (9-12) have had a lackluster start to the season as they languish in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. The Demar DeRozan-led franchise has not looked like the team that made so much noise in the East last season.
A big part of the team is Ball. The former LA Lakers' 2017 draft pick is a huge part of the team. Ball's importance as a defensive anchor, transition playmaker and prolific outside shooter cannot be understated for Chicago.
When asked about Ball's status, Bulls coach Billy Donovan said:
"It’s been really slow. I’m just being honest. He’s working through more and more. But it’s not like I can give you any report, ‘Hey, he’s running, he’s cutting, he’s jumping, he’s doing individual skill work.' The next step is, we’ve got to get him some contact. To be honest with you, we’re not even close to that."
Billy Donovan also said that Lonzo Ball isn't pain-free yet.
"He is better after the surgery, I will say that, but is he completely pain-free? No, and that’s what they’re working towards," Donovan said. "But for him. it’s the pain that has (prevented him from) getting back to playing."
The Bulls will hope that Lonzo Ball will return soon to their lineup or else their season might be up in flames way before than anyone expected.
Chicago Bulls need to stitch together a long winning streak to compete with Eastern Conference contenders
The Boston Celtics (18-4) have picked right where they left off last season. Tayson Tatum has played like a true MVP contender, and the Celtics have looked like a championship contender. The Celtics have managed to evade the after-effects of the Ime Udoka controversy by sitting atop the Eastern Conference.
The Milwaukee Bucks, who lost to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season without All-Star Khris Middleton, have stayed near the top of the standings. They've ridden some great performances from two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo is inarguably the league's best player right now and has made fans and media members numb to his every-game greatness. With Khris Middleton ready to return on Friday, the Bucks (15-5) look ready to fight for the first seed again.
The Chicago Bulls aren't looking like the team that wrecked havoc in the Eastern Conference during the regular season last year and ended up in the playoffs. The franchise needs to start winning in order to stay away from the likes of Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.