Despite some small steps in the right direction in recent weeks, a Lonzo Ball return isn’t in sight.
According to Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Bulls point guard isn’t close to rejoining the team. More specifically, head coach Billy Donovan told Poe bluntly that Ball is “nowhere near playing,” as he has yet to begin running on a consistent basis.
Original reports at the beginning of the season shared “confidence” in Ball’s ability to return for the second half of the season. However, it didn’t take long for the organization to begin walking back that sentiment. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski eventually reported in December that there were “no guarantees” Ball would see action this season. Now, here we are.
With the All-Star break quickly approaching and the Bulls still struggling to stay in the playoff mix, deciding whether or not it’s even worth rushing Ball back on the floor is a key decision. Donovan told Poe that will have to be a discussion they have in the coming weeks if Ball doesn’t see drastic improvement:
“If you start to get to that point, I think there will probably end up being some conversations: ‘OK, what if he’s still not close to playing? What’s the plan going forward?'”
All things considered, I kind of have an emotionless response to this news. While the videos of him dunking and running were a spark of optimism, I was never feeling truly confident that Ball would make a return to the floor this season.
Not to mention, I still don’t think he fixes all the problems this roster has. He would be nothing more than a Band-Aid that covers up some of their glaring weakness. Heck, perhaps his continued absence will only further help this front office understand that real change is needed.
I wish Ball nothing but the best. I feel for him more than anyone, and I care about his well-being more than his mere availability for this team. I’m sure this whole thing has taken a real toll on him physically and mentally. Keep grinding Lonzo.