'Frustrating': Lonzo Ball to undergo third surgery on knee, could miss 2023-24 NBA season

Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a cartilage transplant in his left knee, the team announced Thursday, marking the third procedure he's had on the same knee.

Ball called the journey to return from a meniscus tear "frustrating." ESPN reported the 25-year-old could miss the entire 2023-24 season recovering, his second straight.

"My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I

can rejoin my teammates," Ball said in a statement Thursday. "This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward."

He continued: "The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what keeps me moving forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball."

LONZO BALL: Chicago Bulls guard will miss entire NBA season with knee injury

Injured Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball sits on the bench during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at United Center on Jan. 13, 2023.
Injured Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball sits on the bench during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at United Center on Jan. 13, 2023.

Ball hasn't played since Jan. 14, 2022 after suffering a meniscus tear in his left knee in a 42-point loss to the Golden State Warriors. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and was expected to return in 6-8 weeks, but Ball didn't play the rest of the season after experiencing discomfort in his knee during rehab.

He underwent an arthroscopic debridement in the same knee ahead of the 2022-23 season in September and was expected to be out in 4-6 weeks, but he never played. The Bulls shut his season down in February before it even began because he couldn't play pain-free.

MORE: Bulls' Lonzo Ball to miss 6-8 weeks for left knee surgery

Artūras Karnišovas, the Bulls' Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, said the decision for Ball to undergo his third knee surgery in 14 months was "a difficult one to make." Ball had the same knee scoped in 2018 when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey. This has been a long and challenging road for him," Karnišovas said in a statement. "The organization is behind him, and he has our full support. Our training and medical staff continue their commitment to Lonzo’s rehabilitation and to working with him throughout this next phase to ensure his healthy return to basketball."

Ball was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft by the Lakers and was traded to New Orleans in the deal that sent Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to Los Angeles. Ball had his best season in 2020-21, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and showed continued improvement with his 3-point shot. He was shooting 42.3% on 3s when he was injured last season.

Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lonzo Ball will undergo third surgery on knee, could miss next season