Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine will each remain in Chicago for the Bulls' upcoming three-game road trip to receive treatment for respective knee injuries, head coach Billy Donovan told reporters before Wednesday's home game against the Cavaliers.
Ball, who will miss his third straight game on Wednesday, is dealing with an ailment the team initially categorized as left knee soreness, but has recently been changed to a "left knee bone contusion." According to Donovan, Ball's knee didn't respond well to the Bulls' first treatment plan, which led them to send him back to Chicago on Monday, before the team's 119-106 loss to Memphis, to consult with a physician.
Donovan multiple times said a timeline for Ball's return won't come until after seeing how he responds to this new mode of therapy. When asked if surgery is on the table as a potential next step after that, he said "we haven't gotten to that point." But it's worth noting Ball received arthroscopic surgery on that same knee in 2018.
"I think the biggest thing right now is what are the steps that we can do to get him back and get him healthy," Donovan said. "I haven't gotten into any detail with them (doctors) about that other than, hey, we'll try this treatment, we'll try this therapy, see how it goes, and then whatever the next step is that will be. But I haven't been told what any next steps are gonna be."
LaVine, meanwhile, will miss his fifth straight game on Wednesday, but has responded well to treatment for the left knee pain that caused him to exit in the first quarter of the Bulls' loss to the Warriors on Jan. 12. Donovan didn't have a timeline for his return either, but said he's been back on the court shooting free throws and participating in strength training.
"He hasn't done any running, jumping, anything like that. He's been able to shoot free throws, he's been able to some strength training and those kinds of things," Donovan said of LaVine. "He has responded well. I don't have a return date for him at this point, but certainly he feels a lot better today than he did coming out of Golden State."
That, at least, is a positive development for the Bulls, who officially returned Alex Caruso and Tyler Cook from the injured list on Wednesday. They enter play against the Cavaliers 27-15, but losers of four straight and five of their last six.
While Ball and LaVine's status moving forward has yet to fully crystallize, expect them to miss at least the team's next three contests. After stops in Milwaukee (Friday), Orlando (Sunday) and Oklahoma City (Monday), the Bulls next return home for a makeup game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Jan. 26.