Bulls prepping for life without guard Lonzo Ball with surgery coming

Lonzo Ball was scheduled to have left knee surgery on Wednesday, with the hope to remove some debris and have him back on track for a re-evaluation in four-to-six weeks.

That was all Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was willing to insist with conviction.

How quickly the point guard will return, or if he’ll even return this season? That’s not a pool that Karnisovas was willing to swim in.

“I’m not a doctor,” Karnisovas said on Monday. “I’m just going to wait and see what the doctors are going to tell me.”

And that’s where it gets tricky for the Bulls.

Ball went down last January with what was first diagnosed as a bone bruise that would need a few weeks to subside. One surgery and now eight months later, Ball was still sidelined, and in Los Angeles awaiting a second surgery on the knee.

There was some criticism about the timing of Ball’s decision for a second surgery, but Karnisovas explained that timeline.

“We gave every opportunity [for Ball] to rehab and get back on the court without doing the surgery,” Karnisovas said. “That was our thought process, with the thought in mind of what’s best for the player. We’re at a crossroads now where we need to do something else and that’s why we opted in to do the procedure.”

Ball’s teammates have been in constant contact, and know how tough this latest injury saga has been for the former No. 2 overall pick.

“I know guys have talked about it all summer, but let’s understand he wants to be out here more than anyone else,” guard Zach LaVine said. “Nobody wants to be injured. It’s tough to have people talk about it each and every day, and when you’re going to be back. I just told him, ‘Make sure you’re ready when you are cause when you come back we need you, you’re our starting point guard, you’re the cog to our defense, our facilitator.’ ”

As far as a plan to replace Ball for the time being, coach Billy Donovan was leaving it an open competition. Second-year combo guard Ayo Dosunmu, as well as veterans Alex Caruso and Goran Dragic are all in play, but Donovan wanted to use practices and exhibition games to see which groups work in sync with certain personnel.

‘What are you doing, Dragic?’

Dragic knew the question was coming in his first media session as a Bull, and it came.

The veteran was on the receiving end of a 2010 poster dunk by Derrick Rose, leaving announcer Stacey King to scream, “What are you doing, Dragic …” after the then-Suns guard attempted to block Rose. A block that was very unsuccessful.

“Yes, this is my nightmare,” Dragic said, laughing.

He then explained the play all these years later.

“The funny thing, this was the only time somebody dunked on me in my whole NBA career,” Dragic said. “It’s fine.”

Dragic said he spoke to Rose about the play later, when the two were on an Adidas promotion tour.

“I said, ‘You had to do it like that?’ ” Dragic recalled. “I was young … second year in the league. First year I didn’t play much, so my second year I started to play a little bit so I had to go for that play. Of course if I knew [the outcome], I would never [challenged Rose], but it is what it is. At least I’m on TV all the time.”

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