Growing Worries Regarding Lonzo Ball’s Rehabilitation Advancement with the Bulls

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Tuesday that Ball was still not sprinting as he continued rehabbing in Los Angeles, and while Donovan didn’t consider it a setback, a source said otherwise.

The hope was Lonzo Ball would start sprinting back in January, but coach Billy Donovan updated the guard’s progress on Tuesday, and admitted that sprinting hasn’t happened yet.

Lonzo Ball updates seldom are positive.

And that didn’t change Tuesday.

After a source told the Sun-Times earlier in the day that the Bulls were having even more concerns about Ball’s progress in his left knee rehabilitation, coach Billy Donovan was asked about it and didn’t exactly paint a picture of positivity.

The hope was Ball would start sprinting in January, and with March just days away, that still hasn’t happened.

“I don’t know if he’s stuck,” Donovan said. “He is doing some shooting, some running, some jumping. He hasn’t done any sprinting yet, that I know.”

Asked if the feeling was that there has been a setback, Donovan said, “They talked about that, and [sprinting] was kind of a goal, a set point. I do think the one thing that has been a priority right now, so he does not get set back is he needs to develop more strength in his leg. Because of him having that surgery and being off his leg so long, before he’s really able to ramp up, I think they want him to get to a place physically that relates to his quad strength, hamstring strength, before he starts to really do that.

“I don’t want to say it’s a holdup, but that’s where they want to get him to. In terms of what he’s doing, he feels better.”

Ball last played in an NBA game on Jan. 14, 2022. He has had three surgeries on his knee since and will be going into the last year of his three-year contract with the Bulls, having the player option at $21.3 million.

He has been in and out of Chicago this season, but most of his rehab has taken place in Los Angeles.

Donovan was asked if there were set windows that the Bulls’ medical staff needed to see Ball reach and if those windows had been missed. He said he didn’t believe that was the case.

“I have not heard that,” Donovan said. “The biggest thing is the strength component, him getting strength back in his legs. That’s where he was at when he was in Chicago, and we talked a little bit.”

The other L.A. story.

The Bulls travel to the West Coast next week and could see Ball and injured guard Zach LaVine.

LaVine opted for season-ending foot surgery recently, and he said in a text conversation with Donovan that he was having the cast removed.

His rehab would determine when the two-time All-Star will be able to rejoin the team and be around the players.

“The biggest thing for him in terms of what the travel is going to be, I don’t know what the dates are, but my feeling is he would come back [to Chicago] periodically,” Donovan said. “I think his appearance here would be important. I don’t think [he’s] going to be [away] for the rest of the season. But the biggest part is going to be when he can get off crutches and when he could start moving, he’ll come back in.”

What about Craig?

Torrey Craig has been sidelined with a sprained right knee since the All-Star break. His recovery timetable was listed at two to four weeks, and little has changed.

Craig was doing a bit more each day and moving forward, according to the Bulls, but was not ahead of schedule, either.

By the time he finishes his rehab and gets his conditioning back, mid-March is starting to feel realistic.

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