Bulls' Lonzo Ball picks up $21.4 million option for 2024-25 season amid knee concerns

Lonzo Ball hasn’t been able to play the past two seasons for the Chicago Bulls. However, he still intends to be part of the team’s plans for 2024-25.

Ball picked up the $21.4 million player option on his contract for next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. Despite the decision, Chicago does not yet know if Ball will be able to play on a left knee that has undergone three surgeries in two years. In March 2023, he had a cartilage transplant procedure on the knee after a torn meniscus in January 2022.

If Ball were unable to return and his knee injury was determined to be career-ending, the Bulls would be able to subtract that $21.4 million figure from their salary cap and luxury tax.

However, if Ball continues his efforts to return and doesn’t get on the court, he takes a significant chunk of Chicago’s cap for 2024-25 as the team attempts to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. That could also make trading Zach LaVine an even higher priority.

“We’re just going to wait and see his progression the next couple of months,” Bulls president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas said after the team’s season ended. “He’s progressing well. Everything is looking good with no setbacks. So we’ll see where he’s at in a couple of months.”

Karnišovas made his remarks after a reporter mentioned that LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, said in early April that it would be four to five months before he could play five-on-five, full-contact basketball.

Ball, who will turn 27 in October, signed a four-year, $85 million contract with the Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2021. In his only active season for Chicago, Ball averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 42% on 3-pointers. Yet he played in only 35 games.

For his career, which includes two seasons each with the Los Angeles Lakers and Pelicans, Ball has averaged 11.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He was the Lakers’ first-round pick (No. 2 overall) in 2017 out of UCLA, where he played one season.

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