MINNEAPOLIS — There’s the physical element to Lonzo Ball’s lengthy rehabilitation process as he tries to salvage some portion of this season after two knee surgeries in eight months.
And there’s the human element.
Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan spoke with Ball on Saturday and said he’s “progressing towards (running)” but that there’s no timetable for when Ball will be cleared to do that — or even if he will be.
That is because Donovan said the last time Ball tried to run, the guard experienced pain. And that was even on a specially designed treadmill designed to take some of the weight off as Ball tried to run.
“We haven’t had anything that’s been like, ‘Oh, geez, we’re back at square one.’ It’s just slow unfortunately,” Donovan said. “It’s just managing the pain and discomfort he’s feeling.”
Even if Ball does get cleared for running and does so pain-free, Donovan reminded all of the “significant ramp-up period for (Ball) to get his conditioning, timing back.”
That is because, obviously, Ball hasn’t played since Jan. 14 — although he has started some spot shooting.
Donovan said Ball, who doesn’t travel on trips, has remained engaged with the team when the Bulls are in Chicago. And that is the human part where Donovan flashes empathy.
“For me personally, just being around him last summer and then being around him in training camp, the one thing that really comes out when you’re around him and speak to him is he’s a student of the game. He loves the game. He’s very bright, very intelligent. And you enjoy talking basketball with him,” Donovan said of Ball.
“He loves to play. There are some guys where maybe this is a job. He just loves to play. And when you see a guy eager to get back and it’s taken away from him, you feel for him.”