Bulls' Lonzo Ball to visit specialist for ailing left knee

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Ball to visit specialist for ailing left knee originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Speaking publicly for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in late January, Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball said he’s “kind of at a standstill right now” and will visit another specialist next week because he still has pain stemming from a bone bruise in his left knee.

“Kind of let it calm down for the last two weeks. I was going at it pretty hard trying to get back as fast as possible,” Ball said. “But like I said, at a standstill, still have pain. So gotta get that figured out this summer for sure.”

Ball said he’s “not sure” if he will need another surgical procedure.

“Hopefully not. I wouldn’t want to have another one,” he said. “But if that’s what it takes, then I pretty much have no choice at this point.”

Ball underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 28 to address the meniscus, at which time the Bulls estimated the starting point guard would return in six to eight weeks. Instead, each time Ball attempted to intensify his workouts, he experienced pain from a bone bruise in the knee that predated the surgical procedure.

It’s the second time Ball has torn this meniscus. His first incident came in 2017 when he played for the Lakers.

“Obviously, something needs to be addressed this summer---a lot more leg workouts as opposed to probably upper body,” Ball said. “I’m going to work with the doctors and the strength coaches and do what I gotta do to get healthy.”

Ball played in just 35 games in his first season with the Bulls after being acquired in a sign-and-trade from the Pelicans and agreeing to a four-year, $80 million deal. Over his first five seasons in the NBA, Ball has played in 52, 47, 63, 55 and 35 games, respectively.

“I don’t think anybody plays to get hurt. It’s just part of the game,” Ball said. “It’s been unfortunate for me my first couple years in the league. But hopefully I can turn it around next year.”

Making Ball’s injury and setback even more frustrating is how well he played. Ball shot a career-high 42.3 percent from 3-point range on high volume of 7.4 attempts per game. Along with Alex Caruso, Ball also served as a lynchpin for an aggressive defensive attack that fueled the Bulls’ offense.

“I think I started off well. Usually I get better as the season goes on so I was looking forward to that,” Ball said. “This would’ve been my first year in the playoffs, which would’ve been amazing. Everything happens for a reason and hopefully we have better luck next year.

“It’s very frustrating. This year, we had a lot of promise, I felt like. And we had a lot of goals that I don’t think were met, mainly due to a lot of health issues. You can’t change the past. I think everything happens for a reason. For me, it’s now about moving forward and getting ready for next year.”

Ball said he already had processed the emotional sting of his season ending early before the playoffs started so that he could focus on encouraging his teammates and supporting them. But as the Bulls’ first-round series played out, Ball couldn’t help but envision what his impact might’ve been.

“I felt like their defense was kind of pack the paint in and load up on guys. I feel like my shooting could’ve for sure helped,” Ball said. “And also obviously defensively versus the guys they have on the other side that are All-Stars.”

Still, Ball sat in on all the team meetings.

“Game planning, just the switch is so much higher compared to regular season. My first time being in those meetings, being in those film sessions. Just the attention to detail is so much more,” he said. “You could feel the intensity in the building. I can’t wait to be a part of that next year.”

Hopefully, fully healthy.

“Really, just get healthy,” Ball said of management’s exit-meeting message to him. “Do whatever I gotta do to come back and be ready to play the full 82 next year. That’s pretty much my main priority this summer. Hit the ground running.”

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