Is it possible Lonzo Ball will not be ready to play by Bulls’ opening night?

Bulls guard Lonzo Ball
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Lonzo Ball played 35 games for the Bulls last season before a knee issue led to meniscus surgery on Jan. 28 of this year. The hope was he would return before the playoffs, but Ball never made it back on the court. Whenever Ball would try to ramp up workouts to return to play, pain in the knee slowed him down. That led to serious concerns in Chicago about his knee heading into the offseason.

Now Darnell Mayberry at The Athletic says Ball missing the start of the season is not out of the question.

It’s been four-and-a-half months since Ball was sidelined with a left knee injury that eventually turned into meniscus surgery. He’s still not right. Whether he will be in time for the season opener becomes more of a concern by the week. If Ball must undergo a second surgery, the time crunch intensifies. There’s been no indication from Ball’s camp that a second procedure is in the plan, but it can’t be ruled out if Ball’s knee remains unresponsive.

Ball said he planned to see a specialist outside the organization, and it’s possible that doctor will recommend another surgery or some other procedure. Ball said he was working on getting his knee right before diving into his off-season workout plans.

The Bulls have plenty of other things to worry about this summer — starting with Zach LaVine‘s free agency — but they are not taking a step forward without Ball back to help solidify the team’s defense. Chicago was 7.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively this season with Ball on the court, and he, along with Alex Caruso, made Chicago’s defense respectable.

Lonzo Ball’s health and return could be a topic up through the start of training camp. And maybe beyond.