Lonzo Ball will undergo cartilage transplant surgery


Lonzo Ball will undergo a cartilage transplant on his left knee, the Chicago Bulls confirmed on Thursday. The surgery will be Ball's third since joining the Bulls. The timetable for his return is uncertain and will be unknown until the surgery is complete.

The operation will be the fourth surgery he's received on his left knee in his lifetime and the third since joining the Bulls. In January 2022, Ball underwent surgery on the knee to repair a torn meniscus. In September 2022, after enduring a painful summer attempting to rehab the knee, he underwent an arthroscopic debridement aimed at treating a nerve problem and clearing debris. 

The task for the upcoming surgery is a cartilage transplant, according to the Bulls' release. Since attempting to return to the floor after his second surgery, Ball has continued to experience discomfort and, at one point, tried changing his running gait. He posted a video of him running, dunking a basketball and performing hurdle drills during the winter. 

“My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates," Ball said in the Bulls' release. "This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what keeps me moving forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball.”

“I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey," Bulls Vice President Artūras Karnišovas said. "This has been a long and challenging road for him, and this decision has been a difficult one to make. The organization is behind him, and he has our full support. Our training and medical staff continue their commitment to Lonzo’s rehabilitation and to working with him throughout this next phase to ensure his healthy return to basketball.”

The Bulls officially shut down Ball from returning to the 2022-23 season in February, just after the All-Star break. 

Next season will be Ball's third with the Bulls. He has a player option for the fourth year of his deal. Should his injury be deemed as career-ending, the Bulls have insurance on his $80 million guaranteed deal, sources told NBC Sports Chicago a while back. 

In Paris, Ball told NBC Sports Chicago he wasn't fearful of the injury threatening his career.

“I just think it’s time-consuming,” Ball said. “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.)”

MORE: Ball has no concern knee issues are career-threatening

Ball's impact on the court has been severely missed by the Bulls. In the first 35 games he played wearing a Bulls uniform during the 2021-22 season, before going down with the meniscus tear, he averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists. 

His persistence in wreaking havoc on defense, adding a wrinkle to the Bulls' offense in transition and becoming arguably the Bulls' best outside shooter at the time are all irreplaceable traits on the current Bulls' roster. 

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