Progress on Lonzo Ball front, but not the kind Bulls fans want to hear

The last game Lonzo Ball played in came on Jan. 14, in a one-sided home loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Including Friday’s game with Orlando, the point guard has now missed 58-straight contests and 63 total with the Bulls.

So when Billy Donovan was again asked about a Ball update before the Magic game, the coach eagerly answered as if there was something positive to report.

“It’s going slow, but he’s doing more, he’s doing more, and he’s doing more,” Donovan said. “He’s still not obviously running, but he’s doing different things that he couldn’t do before.”

Once again proving that upbeat Ball updates are very relative.

“Outside of that, until he’s running, jumping or cutting, I just don’t know how far away [he is],” the coach added.

Which means still no timetable, despite Ball now being outside of the four-to-six week re-evaluation window that was originally given after he underwent a second left knee surgery in late September.

Best-case scenario for a Ball return?

It’s not really worth even speculating on, except that the organization was still holding out hope that there would be one at some point this season.

Not that anyone should be shocked by Ball’s seemingly slow return, especially since he was very transparent about how he wanted to handle his return this time around.

“For me, this will be my third surgery so this time around I really don’t want to rush anything,” Ball said the last time he spoke to the media in September. “I think like last time [in January], I wanted to get back to the playoffs and stuff, and I thought – we all thought – that was going to be the case and unfortunately it wasn’t, so this time we need to just take it as slow as we need to take it and come back 100%.”

Then factor in that his father, LaVar, thought Lonzo was rushed back too quickly by the Lakers when he had his first surgery, and there’s even more reason to believe that the plan is likely focusing on being overly-cautious this time around.

“[Missing the entire season is] not in my mind right now, but that would be the worst-case scenario,” Ball said. “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. So whenever that day comes, that’s when I’ll have the jersey back on.”

White out

Coby White made his return to the rotation on Friday, after the combo guard missed the last eight games with a thigh contusion.

He was on a minutes restriction, however, and didn’t expect that to change for at least a few more games.

“Just trying to get him back into the flow of things,” Donovan said. “He really hasn’t had a practice, just a shootaround [Friday morning]. He did things [Thursday] with some of the player development guys, so he’s gotten work in.”

White was averaging a career-low 8.1 points per game before the injury, and was shooting just 29.4% from three. Donovan, however, wasn’t concerned with his slow start.

“The one thing I respect about him is he always internally reflects on what he can do better,” Donovan said. “Whatever he can do to help the team is always his mentality.”

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