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

According to coach Billy Donovan, Ball continues to take positive steps in his left knee rehab, but the steps are slow. So slow that the coach still couldn’t offer up any sort of timetable.

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Lonzo Ball

The last game Lonzo Ball played in was Jan. 14 — a one-sided loss to the Warriors at home last season. Including Friday’s loss to the Magic, he has now missed 58 straight games and 63 total for the Bulls.

Asked for a Ball update before the game, coach Billy Donovan 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.

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

In other words, there’s still no timetable for the point guard to return, despite him now being past the initial four-to-six-week re-evaluation window that was given after he underwent a second surgery on his left knee in late September.

A best-case scenario no longer seems worth speculating about, except that the Bulls have been holding out hope that Ball can come back at some point this season.

The last time Ball spoke with reporters in September, he said he wouldn’t be rushing his return, focusing instead of being able to get back to 100%. His father, LaVar Ball, thought the Lakers rushed him back too quickly when he first had surgery on the knee in the summer of 2018.

RETURNING THE WHITE WAY

Combo guard Coby White made his return to the Bulls’ rotation Friday after missing the previous eight games with a deep thigh bruise. His minutes were limited, however, and that’s not expected 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 before the injury and shooting just 29.4% from three-point range. But Donovan 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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