Lonzo Ball says he'll 'definitely' play again after 3 surgeries, 2.5 lost seasons

Lonzo Ball confirmed in August he'll miss the upcoming NBA season after another surgery on his ailing left knee.

On Monday, he showed up at Chicago Bulls media day in full uniform to talk about the future. He's planning on playing basketball again.

"I definitely plan on playing again," Ball said. "I'm only 25, I feel like the rehab process has been going well so far. No setbacks. So for me it's just keeping my head up, just keep doing the work."

Ball had a third surgery on his knee in March, this one a cartilage transplant. He reportedly wasn't able to run or jump following his second operation. The last time he played basketball was Jan. 14, 2022. Since then, he's missed 42 games of the 2021-22 season and the entire 2022-23 season. He'll miss the entire upcoming season with hopes of returning for 2024-25.

He told reporters Monday he's "about halfway" through the rehab process.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he continued. "Probably about halfway through the rehab process. Still have a long way ahead of me. But each week I've been progressing. I'm just trying to stay positive and take it day by day.

"Rehab's been long. Feels like every day is almost the same. I'm getting better each week, and that's all I can ask for."

Lonzo Ball was in the best stretch of his young career when his knee gave out. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Lonzo Ball was in the best stretch of his young career when his knee gave out. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Ball was in the best stretch of his young NBA career when his knee injury initially sidelined him in 2022. He was averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in his first season in Chicago for a Bulls team that was in first place in the Eastern Conference.

A 3-point shot that was a liability early in his career (30.5% as a rookie) had become a strength. He shot 37.8% from long distance in his final season in New Orleans and was connecting on 42.3% of his 7.4 attempts per game with Chicago. He improved his free-throw shooting from 45.1% as a rookie to 75% with the Bulls in his fifth NBA season.

He was one of the game's most gifted playmakers since the first day he set foot on an NBA floor. With his improved shooting and well-rounded game, he'd started to deliver on the promise that made him the No. 2 pick of the 2017 draft. Then his knee gave out.

It's been a hard two years of going through surgery and rehab and sitting on the sidelines. But Ball's remaining positive and optimistic that he'll be ready for next season.

"I've been playing basketball organized since I've been 6," Ball told NBC Sports Chicago. "I'm 25 now. Just not being out there the last two years, it just feels like part of my life is gone. I can only do so much on the side. It's kind of hard for me to watch the games from there just because I know that I can help if I'm out there. But the fact that I can't play, it is what it is.

"Definitely planning on coming back next year strong, healthy and ready to go."