Bulls expected to announce Lonzo Ball won’t return this season

Coach Billy Donovan said there will be a meeting to discuss the next step in Ball’s attempted return from a bone bruise in his left knee, but the Sun-Times was told that the organization already knows the calendar doesn’t work in his favor.

SHARE Bulls expected to announce Lonzo Ball won’t return this season
The Bulls don’t expect Lonzo Ball to return this season

The Bulls don’t expect Lonzo Ball to return this season

Mary Altaffer/AP

Coach Billy Donovan sounded like he still was holding onto a sliver of hope for a Lonzo Ball return.

The Sun-Times, however, has been told that hope has all but limped off into the summer, with a source saying that Ball will be shut down from any sort of return, even in the postseason.

After a 10-day pause in the rehab process from both a surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee and a bone bruise, the Bulls and their medical staff were anticipating that a final rest would allow them to ramp up the point guard’s activity for one more attempt before they would have to face the reality of pulling the plug on any sort of return.

The early stages of that attempt took place the last few days, but when Ball tried again to ramp up his sprinting and cutting Tuesday morning, he again felt discomfort in the knee.

“He is having discomfort, which is obviously disappointing,’’ Donovan said. “I’m not really quite sure what the next step is. The plan is to continue talking to the doctors.

“I think there will probably be a meeting of the minds here in the next day or two to talk about what the next step is in what we do. That’s really all I have right now. I don’t know if he was able to do a little bit more or he gets to the same point, but he is having some discomfort at this point.’’

A source close to the situation, however, said that the organization already knows that the calendar doesn’t work in Ball’s favor, with the regular season ending Sunday.

Even with five days off while the play-in portion of the postseason takes place, this latest setback still doesn’t give the Bulls enough of a comfortable timetable to drop Ball into the postseason with limited practice time, as well as the fact that he hasn’t played in an NBA game since Jan. 14.

Donovan expects everything to be made official at some point this week.

“All these guys love to play, he wants to play,’’ Donovan said. “I think like any player, he’s disappointed that he can’t be out there and it’s not progressing, but he’s dealt with it, taking it in stride. To his credit, he’s tried to do everything to get himself back and feeling good.

“As it relates to the season, obviously we’re running out of games and time, things like that, and those things will probably be taken into consideration.’’

In Ball’s absence, Ayo Dosunmu was handed the starting point-guard spot and has had mixed results lately.

With the schedule getting harder after the All-Star break, Dosunmu’s play has reflected that.

“Green Light’’ White

Coby White spoke about his shooting woes lately and made it very clear that while he was hitting only 23.5% from three-point range his last 10 games, his mindset was, “The bad thing would be if I stopped shooting.’’

Donovan wants his combo-guard to stay aggressive but also be aware that he can affect the game in other ways.

“I feel really good with the shots that he’s taken,’’ Donovan said. “And I’ve talked to Coby about this, but you gotta get lost in the game competitively. He’s gotta compete defensively, he’s gotta get out in transition, moving, cutting. It takes about a second to shoot a shot. For the minutes he’s out there I want him aggressive.’’

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