Bulls’ VP Artūras Karnišovas provides sobering update on Lonzo Ball

Another day, another Lonzo Ball update — and it’s not a good one.

Chicago Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas joined the NBA-TV broadcast during Tuesday’s summer league game against the Toronto Raptors and fielded a question on Ball’s status from analyst Brendan Haywood.

“He’s progressing. That’s as much as I can say. He’s getting better. Probably not at the speed that we would like. But he’s getting better, ”Karnišovas said. “Hopefully, he’s going to be ready for training camp. That’s just our hopes. ”

Given that training camp is over two months away and Ball was originally supposed to return in six to eight weeks from a late-January arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn left meniscus, this is sobering stuff. If Ball isn’t ready by training camp, that would mark eight months since his surgery.

The Bulls previously said that procedure was successful and that the bone bruise that predated the surgery lingered and remained the issue whenever Ball increased his workload in his attempts to return last season.

Multiple sources told NBC Sports Chicago that Ball’s current workout regimen has featured similar starts and stops. In other words, Ball still occasionally experiences discomfort when he increases his workload.

The uncertainty around Ball could be seen in some of Karnišovas’ offseason moves. While drafting a guard in Dalen Terry could be viewed through the “best player available” prism, especially because the Bulls project him to be a defensive irritant at the wing, the imminent addition of point guard Goran Dragić gives the Bulls a veteran starting or reserve option should Ball not be ready.

Ball is so crucial to the Bulls at both ends. He shot a career-high 42.3 percent from 3-point range on high volume of 7.4 attempts per game and underpinned a top-five defense with his point-of-attack prowess. When he and Alex Caruso experienced injuries, the Bulls’ defense slowed.

Karnišovas acknowledged the defensive dropoff on the NBA-TV broadcast.

“The first 20 games, we were in the top-five in defense and offense,” Karnišovas said. “We lost a couple of players and we dropped to [22nd] in defense. There’s a lot of things we need to improve. Health is No. 1 for us. “

In the first season of his four-year, $ 80 million deal with the Bulls, Ball played in just 35 games. He acknowledged how much his inability to return after January, including missing the Bulls’ first-round playoff loss to the Bucks, disappointed him during his exit media interview in April.

“It’s very frustrating,” Ball said on April 28. “Obviously, something needs to be addressed this summer — a lot more leg workouts as opposed to probably upper body. I’m going to work with the doctors and the strength coaches and do what I gotta do to get healthy. ”

Ball visited his own specialist following the season. NBC Sports Chicago reported in late April that the initial offseason plan focused on rest and treatments to solve the bone bruise before a more detailed workout plan could be put in place.

The Bulls’ sports performance staff has visited Ball in Los Angeles to work in consultation with Ball’s trainers and doctors, a fact general manager Marc Eversley acknowledged on the night of the NBA draft in June.

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