The Bulls privately believe that Lonzo Ball’s playing days are over due to lingering knee issues, according to 670 The Score’s Dan Bernstein. While co-hosting the Organizations Win Championships podcast, Bernstein reported that the team fears the worst in regard to the former lottery draft pick’s ailing left knee. 

“The other thing I heard is even though publicly there has been an expression of guarded optimism regarding a future for Lonzo Ball,” Bernstein said. “And there’s a reason why for you’re pursuant to all kinds of union issues, why they haven’t asked for the salary exemption yet because they don’t want to send the message publicly that they’re done with him. They don’t think it’s likely that he ever plays again.”

It was reported by ESPN and The Athletic in March that Ball was set to undergo a third surgery on his left knee after the Bulls ruled him out for the rest of the 2022–23 season because of lingering knee pain. He hasn’t played since he left a Jan. 14, 2022, game with knee soreness, which eventually revealed a small tear in his meniscus.

On March 16, the Bulls announced Ball would undergo a cartilage transplant, and Bernstein noted that the procedure was a sign that the team was exhausting every option before coming to the conclusion that Ball’s days as an NBA point guard appear to be over. 

“That was our speculation when we heard about experimental cartilage replacement surgery,” Bernstein said. “It is incredibly rare and is much more likely being done just for his quality of life off of the basketball court.”

Ball, 25, was selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA draft by the Lakers and was playing some of his best basketball for Chicago before his knee woes.

Ball has averaged 11.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 252 career games with the Lakers, Pelicans and Bulls.