Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a third surgical procedure on his left knee in 14 months, the team announced, and concerns persist about his eventual ability to resume his career, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
The surgery could cost him most — if not all — of the 2023-24 season, sources said.
The team said the cartilage transplant will leave Ball, 25, out “indefinitely.”
Ball — who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since Jan. 14, 2022, and already has been ruled out of the 2022-23 season — has undergone two surgeries on the troublesome knee, and there’s growing pressure for the next procedure to give him a pathway to heal so he can play again, sources said.
“This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward,” Ball said in a statement released by the team.
ESPN reported last week that the Bulls and Ball’s representatives with Klutch Sports were working together and consulting with specialists before a final decision on surgery was made. Ball made incremental progress in recent months but has yet to be able to run, cut or jump without pain. He is completing the second season of a four-year, $80 million free agent contract with the Bulls — a deal that started with tremendous promise in 2021-22.
In his first season after arriving from New Orleans, Ball averaged 13 points, 5.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds and shot 42% on 3-pointers. He played a significant role on both offense and defense in leading Chicago to a 27-13 start that season. The Bulls have struggled in Ball’s absence, and this season are 31-37 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.