The big news on the Lonzo Ball front on Thursday?
There was no real news.
Coach Billy Donovan told reporters that the Wednesday left knee surgery went well, that Ball was optimistic in conversations afterward, and the feeling from the organization was that they would have the point guard back at some point this season.
Basically, the same view the Bulls had when the surgery was announced.
“I’m always a positive guy, so we’re going to see him on the floor when? It’s just going to depend on how he feels during recovery,” executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said of Ball on Tuesday.
What also didn’t change was the initial window for Ball. Depending on how the knee reacts in rehab, Ball will be re-evaluated in four-to-six weeks, and then a more definitive timetable will come out of that.
The wildcard in all of this?
It remains Ball.
He has now had three surgeries on the knee – two since last January – and made it very clear that he was all about taking his time to completely heal up before returning to the floor.
“I’m at a point now where I know I can’t get back out there until I’m comfortable playing and can actually play,” Ball said the day before his surgery. “So whenever that day comes, that’s when I’ll have the jersey back on.”
Besides developing into a corner three-point specialist and being the best two-way starter the Bulls had, the sneaky part of Ball’s game was his ability to put pressure on the opposing defense with how quickly he advanced the ball up the floor.
Not only has Donovan been using these first three days of practice to get his guards to think that way, but identify who exactly was good at it. With Ball sidelined until at least November, someone has to step up.
“That’s where [Ball] was elite, like he could snap the ball across the floor and create advantages,” Donovan said. “It’s something we’re working on with Ayo, Coby [White] and those guys, where we’ve got to be able to get down the floor.”
Nikola Vucevic was searching for his long-range shot throughout most of last season, shooting a dismal 31.4% from three-point range. A number that was worse since he started making the three a regular part of his arsenal back in 2019.
So looking back now, what went wrong? According to Vucevic, what didn’t go wrong?
“Early on in the season, I think I was a little too passive and trying to play in a way that was within the team, trying to help everyone get involved,” Vucevic said. “I felt like I was too much out on the perimeter and settling a little bit. And I think the shots didn’t start falling for me and I didn’t get in a rhythm, and then it took me awhile to get out of it. Then I wanted to make it happen overnight, and I started forcing things a little bit.”
The good news was Vucevic wasn’t dwelling on it, and considered it more a blip on the map than a downward trend.
“I know I’m a good shooter,” Vucevic said.