Bulls' Billy Donovan shares optimistic Lonzo Ball injury update

Donovan shares hope, but no timetable, in Ball update originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

BOSTON — While acknowledging that Lonzo Ball hasn’t begun running or cutting and reiterating there’s no timetable for his return to the court, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan still offered an optimistic update on the guard who is so instrumental to style of play.

Wednesday will mark six weeks since Ball underwent the second surgical procedure in eight months on his ailing left knee, which has sidelined him since Jan. 14. Originally slated to return in six to eight weeks from the first procedure, Ball endured a troubling offseason in which he said he couldn’t climb stairs without discomfort. He underwent a debridement aimed at cleaning up loose debris on Sept. 28.

According to Donovan, the early returns are the second procedure has led to positive results.

“Everything is very, very optimistic right now. I think there are things that he is able to do that he feels a lot freer that he did prior to the surgery,” Donovan said Friday night in advance of the Bulls-Celtics matchup at TD Garden. “The biggest part was allowing the incision inside of his knee to heal. And then he started to do some things. He has done some running on a treadmill in the water, which is a positive sign. There are things he’s doing that he wasn’t able to do.

“Don’t have any timeline on when he’ll really be able to ramp up, but things have progressed. And everything that I’ve gotten from the medical guys has been positive. Obviously, he’s a ways away from running and cutting and doing all those things. But there is optimism that this hopefully has helped him.”

As for that running and cutting, Donovan acknowledged that’s what set back Ball during many attempts to return from the first procedure. So until Ball begins that process, it’s difficult to know when — or if — Ball will return.

“The biggest thing they were trying to figure out after that incision closed up and he was back was: Was the discomfort he was experiencing and feeling, had any of that subsided and gotten better? And it had,” Donovan said. “But we just don’t know if this guy starts running and cutting and sprinting and doing any of those things, we just don’t know where he’ll be at that point and time.”

The good news is the communication between the Bulls, Ball and the Los Angeles-based surgeon who performed the procedure is strong.

“Certainly, he’s going to be the driver of how he’s feeling. And his communication is going to be very important,” Donovan said. “But along with him, the doctor in LA, our medical staff, our orthopedic surgeon, they’re all going to communicate. And very much so everybody is on the same page.”

Multiple reports have indicated Ball at least plans to try to play this season.

Does Donovan think he will?

“I’m hopeful. I just don’t know, just because he hasn’t gotten on the floor. Even if he does get cleared to play, there’s going to be a period of time he needs to get his legs back under him. That’s why it’s hard for me to put a timetable on it. We’re just not at that place,” the coach said.

“But I’m optimistic for him and hopeful because he loves to play and you feel terrible for a guy like him as young as he is that has missed as much time as he has missed.”

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