Lonzo Ball

Bulls do not expect Lonzo Ball to return to the court next season

Artūras Karnišovas said he doesn't anticipate Ball returning to the floor next season

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The Bulls announced on Thursday they don't anticipate Lonzo Ball to return to the floor next season.

"Going into the offseason, I think our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season," Artūras Karnišovas told the media after the NBA draft on Thursday. "And he’s going to continue on his recovery. If he comes back, it would be great. But we’re just going to treat this offseason and getting ready for the season that he’s not going to be back next season."

In March, Ball underwent his third knee surgery since January 2022 on the same knee that's kept him off the floor since then. From a meniscus repair to an arthroscopic debridement, followed by a cartilage transplant, Ball has gone through the wringer attempting to fix his knee.

Now, he's currently rehabbing from the surgery he underwent in the spring. By all accounts, his rehab is going well, according to Karnišovas.

"He’s recovering nicely," Karnišovas said. "I think last month he got off the crutches and he’s recovering and doing his rehab. Everything is going well."

Either way, the Bulls must prepare for a second straight season without him.

"Our hope eventually is you’re going to see him on the basketball court. But I don’t think he’s going to be back next season," Karnišovas said.

Considering Ball's murky future, the idea of a waive-and-stretch to alleviate the Bulls' books was brought up. A waive-and-stretch is when a player's remaining salary is paid over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one.

The notion was met with a swift decline from Karnišovas, however.

"No, not at this time," Karnišovas said on the matter.

On the idea of applying for a disabled player exception, Karnišovas was slightly more open to the idea but didn't confirm the Bulls would exercise that option. The exception would grant the Bulls a $10 million salary slot.

Without Ball this season, the Bulls are forced to address the point guard position in free agency, or trade, for what it's worth. Karnišovas and Eversley confirmed they will extend qualifying offers to both Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White. The expectation is the Bulls will prioritize White and possibly make him the starter.

Patrick Beverley recently Tweeted his advocation for re-signing to his hometown team, writing "Team is solid. #Runitback" on social media. Beverley, however, wants a similar contract number to that of his last contract, between $13-15 million. The Bulls likely can't and won't afford his services.

Broadening the scope of Ball's career, he told NBC Sports Chicago in Paris he doesn't believe the injury is career-threatening. Nevertheless, his procedure is a rare operation for a professional athlete; making a full recovery and returning to the floor is even rarer.

“I just think it’s time-consuming,” Ball said in January. “This is my third surgery, I had two last year. It’s about building that strength back up and the confidence in myself. I’m only 25, so I’m not too worried about (career-ending injury.)”

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