Kaplan: Bulls concerned about Ball's knee


Longtime Chicago media personality David Kaplan created a stir Monday morning when he said on his ESPN-AM 1000 radio program that the Chicago Bulls’ front office has “serious concerns” over the lack of progress regarding Lonzo Ball’s left knee injury.

Kaplan, who also hosts “Unfiltered with David Kaplan” and the “Football Aftershow” following Bears games on NBC Sports Chicago, added Ball’s lack of progress “will color how they will address their offseason.”

“They” means Bulls management, which addressed the situation on April 29, one day after Ball also talked about his frustration with the lingering injury.

“It’s always a concern, right?” executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said that day, two days after the Milwaukee Bucks ended a Bulls’ season in which Ball played just 35 games. “I’ll be positive because we missed him greatly this year. We missed his size, we missed him pushing the break. We got a little bit slower the second half of the season. We missed his eight attempts per game from three at 42%. So we’re missing him, but we also have to pay attention to what’s going on there and we’ll try and figure it out this summer.’’

Ball had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Jan. 28. At that point, the Bulls estimated his timeline to return at six to eight weeks.

Instead, Ball never played again. A bone bruise which predated his arthroscopic knee surgery lingered and flared any time that Ball attempted to increase his workload to return to play.


“It’s very frustrating,” Ball said on April 28. “Obviously, something needs to be addressed this summer---a lot more leg workouts as opposed to probably upper body. I’m going to work with the doctors and the strength coaches and do what I gotta do to get healthy.”

Ball was scheduled to visit his own specialist following the season. A source told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson that the initial offseason plan focused on rest and treatments to solve the bone bruise before a more detailed workout plan could be put in place.

Ball said he hoped his visit to the specialist wouldn’t necessitate another surgery before adding “but if that’s what it takes, then I pretty much have no choice at this point.” As of Monday, NBC Sports Chicago couldn’t confirm any talk of such need having been established.

“It’s hard because there’s no answer to why he’s feeling discomfort in his knee and obviously with him going to LA to have the surgery the next step for him now is to go back to LA and meet with his doctors and meet with his team and try to find out what is the issue, what is causing this, how to resolve it,” coach Billy Donovan said in late April. “The frustrating piece probably for him is after having the surgery and doing everything he could possibly do to get himself back on the floor and not being able to get back on the floor he’s probably in a situation now of what’s going on.”

The Bulls acquired Ball in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Pelicans and agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal. In his first season with the Bulls, he made a major impact at both ends.

But his inability to stay healthy throughout his five-year career is becoming a storyline the Bulls hope can be put in the past by next season.

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