Billy Donovan Noncommittal on Lonzo Ball's Replacement, but Believes Bulls "Have Enough"

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Billy Donovan Noncommittal on Lonzo Ball’s Replacement, but Believes Bulls “Have Enough”

Chicago Bulls

The moment Media Day started in Chicago is the moment Lonzo Ball’s name came up.

Scheduled to have a second knee surgery later this week, Arturas Karnisovas didn’t have much else to say on the current status of the team’s starting point guard. He reiterated that Ball will be re-evaluated in four-to-six weeks following surgery, and he also clarified why the team waited until now to have the 24-year-old head back into the operating room.

“First of all, we gave every opportunity to rehab and get back on the court without doing surgery,” Karnisovas said. “So that was our thought process … We’re at a cross roads now where we have to do something else, and that’s why we opted in to do the procedure. We worked very closely with Lonzo and his representation and looked at every options possible and got to this conclusion. 

In terms of a timeline, we don’t know.” 

So while we didn’t learn anything new about Ball’s situation, we did at least hear about how Billy Donovan plans to deal with the absence of arguably his best two-way player. The head coach was quick to confirm that Ball’s injury would present a challenge, but he was also more than confident in the depth Chicago has built at the position. And for good reason.

Whether it be Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, Alex Caruso, or the recently-signed Goran Dragic, the Bulls aren’t looking under couch cushions for point guards. None of those options may be able to replicate exactly what Ball does, but they each have their own experience taking on this crucial role in the starting lineup.

“Any time you lose a good player, it’s going to challenge you,” Donovan said. “And Lonzo is, obviously, a terrific player. The injuries are part of it. I think because of last year we’ve had a lot of different guys at that spot. Ayo played there quite a bit, so did Coby, so did Alex Caruso. Goran right now gives us a really good veteran there. 

I think we’ll have to see how these guys gel and mesh once training camp starts and we start practicing. But I think we have enough back there that we can get the job done from that standpoint.”

The fact Donovan took a non-commital approach here makes all the sense in the world. Not only is there zero rush to make this crucial call, but this is the exact kind of situation where training camp can come in handy. The goal here is to use the next few weeks to see who clicks best with their teammates and the tweaked style of play. Not to mention, knowing that the fifth starting spot is up in the air could, theoretically, stir up a little competition.

I can truly see a world where either Dosunmu, Caruso, or Dragic makes sense as Ball’s primary fill-in (while White might be mentioned by Donovan, I think we can agree he is fourth in line), and I have to imagine Donovan feels the same.

Dosunmu’s two-way potential is likely closest to Ball, and he also offers a level of transition scoring that fits well with the uptempo style Donovan seemingly prefers to play. Caruso, on the other hand, provides the kind of elite defense and energy that we know fuels the rest of his teammates. As for Dragic, he’s undoubtedly the most experienced player on the roster. The guy can hit the 3-ball, find the open man, and limit mistakes. The upside may not be as high with him in the lineup (especially when we consider his age), but he showed during EuroBasket that he has plenty of smart basketball left in the tank.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I lean toward Dosunmu taking the spot and allowing Caruso/Dragic to provide experience off the bench. But I’m not at all against the other two winning the job. The fact of the matter is that each of these players packs their own kind of punch, and it will be up to Donovan to select which one best fits with how this starting lineup needs to play right out of the gate.

Check out the full press conference with Karnisovas and Donovan below:



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.