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Donovan says Lonzo Ball ‘has not responded' in rehab

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PHOENIX --- Friday marked seven weeks since Lonzo Ball underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure to repair a small meniscus tear in his left knee.

And while Ball continues to actively rehab the injury, which the Bulls originally said would keep him out six to eight weeks, coach Billy Donovan emphasized that the starting point guard has hit a speed bump.

“He has not responded,” Donovan said. “There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing.

“He has not been able to do anything full speed. And anytime we get him close to that, there’s discomfort. So I think they’re going to probably at least look at, you know, ‘Do you back off and let him rest for a little bit and see if that helps?’”

Such a plan obviously would place Ball’s availability within his original window into question. Donovan did downplay a question on whether Ball, who also had meniscus surgery when he played for the Lakers, might be done for the season.

“I haven’t had that where they said that,” Donovan said. “I think everybody was optimistic that he could get back and play. But there’s no question with the current situation with him not being able to do things physically that he needs to do on the court---he’s not even at that place---if it keeps going on and on, that would not be great. But he’s made some strides. He just hasn’t made significant enough strides where we can keep pushing him.”

Donovan said the Bulls’ medical staff is meeting to determine the next steps. Those could involve having Ball rest or do more strengthening work.

“You want to have a situation where you can really ramp him up and he still has discomfort there. So I think they’re trying to figure out how to ease that to basically take the next step,” Donovan said. “He hasn’t gone backwards. He just has not been able to go forward far enough to do the things he needs to do to be able to play.”

Donovan said Ball, who is averaging 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range over 35 games, has remained committed to working his way back and hasn’t sounded frustrated.

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