The Bulls were asking for a lot on the medical front the last few months.
They were counting on Alex Caruso to return from a wrist fracture, they were hoping Patrick Williams would make it back before the end of the regular season after wrist surgery and they believed Lonzo Ball, who injured his left knee and had surgery, would return by the end of March.
All things considered, two out of three isn’t that bad.
Caruso has been back for more than a week, and Williams made his return Monday against the Raptors. The Ball saga, however, took a serious pause, and the point guard is running out of time on the calendar.
Coach Billy Donovan said Ball and the medical staff got together and decided the best course of action was to cease all running and cutting for 10 days, with the hope that rest will decrease the discomfort. The original diagnosis on the knee was a bone bruise, and the surgery fixed the meniscus. The bone bruise remains the issue.
“He’s actively doing things to strengthen [the knee], but in terms of the running and what we were trying to do where he kept kind of hitting that plateau, they’re just going to pull him back now,’’ Donovan said. “So there’s not going to be anything for 10 days just to see how he responds to that, if that helps take away some of the discomfort he does feel when he does [the running].
“It’s not necessarily that he’s had any setbacks. It’s just that we haven’t been able to take that next step.’’
This is Week 7 of Ball’s rehab, and the original timetable for the injury was six to eight weeks. He’ll obviously blow past that.
But Donovan still won’t rule him out for the rest of the season.
“I think we’ll have a better feel for that once they get through this next 10 days,’’ Donovan said.
“Obviously, it’s coming to the end of the season. The last game is April 10, and we’re at the end of March right now, so I haven’t really asked that question to the medical staff of where they’re at. I think they feel like if he can get over this 10-day period and get back to the ramp-up period — because he has been out for quite some time — that would enable him to get back into contact relatively soon.’’
The last time DeMar DeRozan averaged 36 minutes or more per game was in the 2013-14 season for the Raptors when he clocked in at 38.2 minutes per game. He was 24.
DeRozan entered the week right at that 36-minute-per-game mark, but since Feb. 1, he has carried a much bigger workload.
He averaged 38.5 minutes in February and was averaging 38.3 in March. And there were eight games of 40-plus minutes during that span.
Just don’t ask DeRozan if he’s worn down.
“No, not all,’’ DeRozan said. “You want to have a smooth, free road on whatever destination you’re on, but sometimes it just doesn’t go that way. You hit bumpy roads.’’
Donovan said that he speaks with DeRozan almost daily, and communication has been the key.
“The one thing about DeMar, at least from my perspective, is he’s physically and mentally a tough guy; he really is,’’ Donovan said. “He’s trying to help our team get that.’’