Lonzo Ball

Bulls' Lonzo Ball cleared for advanced rehab activities

Guard, who hasn't played in NBA since January 2022, attempting comeback from knee cartilage transplant

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

LOS ANGELES --- Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball attended Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers as his attempt to return from a two-year-plus absence has been cleared for advanced activities.

Speaking before Saturday's matinee, coach Billy Donovan said Ball, who hasn't played in an NBA game since January 2022, has begun sprinting and cutting and jumping. Ball has undergone three knee procedures during his absence, including his latest, a cartilage transplant.

"Some of the workouts have been really, really positive and he has progressed," Donovan said. "He has responded well. Some of the things that medical guys have shown me is he looks good moving. I'm just really happy for him personally for his progress. He has worked hard to put himself in this position. And hopefully, he can continue to progress."

The advanced activities are controlled and in non-contact situations, but it's still a step forward as the point guard tries to defy the odds and make a comeback. Ball has a player option for next season, the last of the original four-year $80 million deal he signed with the Bulls.

Donovan said the next step, obviously, would be getting cleared for contact and five-on-five basketball. There is no timeline yet for this next step and it's obviously contingent on how Ball responds moving forward.

"This is something that is almost unprecedented," Donovan said. "He has been able to pass every hurdle so far."

The Bulls received a disabled player exception of $10.2 million for Ball's absence this season that expires on Monday. That obviously will go unused.

But the organization is focused on helping Ball from a personal and professional standpoint.

"I'm speaking more from my perspective, not even medically that he's going to need for his own well-being getting accustomed to banging and hitting and defending and getting over screens and contact to the rim and getting off bodies," Donovan said. "How can we help formulate a plan where he is at that place where he can play, whether it's here in LA? Just as long as he feels like he's getting the contact.

"Some of it may be 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 and a controlled situation. But at some point, we'll have a conversation about what the next step is contact-wise for him. . . . He's had 2-1/2 years of no contact. And you feel bad about that."

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