The development marks a step back in Ball's rehab from left knee surgery on Jan. 28, which addressed a meniscus tear and bone bruise and initially carried a six- to eight-week recovery timetable. Friday, March 28 marks eight weeks since the operation, but according to Donovan's timeline, Ball will have his capacity to ramp up his running reevaluated on March 31.
Ball won't be completely inactive during the 10-day hiatus. He'll instead focus his concentration on strength training in the knee, which Donovan said has experienced discomfort each time he has attempted to ramp up his running to full-speed.
"It's not necessarily he's had any setbacks, it's just that we have not been able to take that next step," Donovan said. "With the doctors talking, our medical guys, the feeling was kind of let's pull back on what he's doing ... take a break on the running and try to ramp him up."
Although the bone bruise is healthier now than it was at the time of the surgery, Donovan has cited it as the source of that discomfort each time Ball attempts to sprint or cut.
"There's definitely a bone bruise there, it's still showing some bruising. I think that's maybe part of the thing is to pull him back, to let it maybe heal," Donovan said. "He has shown significant healing in that area, so I don't want to make it seem like he hasn't healed. That bone bruise is significantly healed and has gotten better. But for some reason they're trying to figure out why he's having this discomfort. And some of it could be he's got a little bit of bruising there and he's still banging on that bruising and maybe shutting it down."
The Bulls host the Clippers on March 31, then have five games remaining on their regular-season schedule (which concludes April 10). That raised a question on the Bulls' concern level that Ball won't return this season.
"I think we'll have a better feel of that once they get through this next 10 days," Donovan said. "Obviously it's coming to the end of the season, certainly the last game's, what, April 10 and we're at the end of March right now. So I haven't really asked that question to the medical of where they're at.
"I think that they felt like, 'OK if he can, over this 10-day period, really get back to the ramp-up period,' ... that would enable him to get back into contact relatively soon. But we can't even get him into that until he gets over that hump, so I don't want to speculate what may or may not happen after 10 days. I think once that comes we'll have a better idea of where he's physically at and what he's physically capable of."
Ball, who the Bulls acquired via sign-and-trade on a four-year, $80 million contract in August, has appeared in 35 games this season and averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range.
Ayo Dosunmu has filled in capably in his place at the starting point guard spot, but there's no question the Bulls badly miss Ball's presence at both ends of the court.