Bulls' Ball still trying to figure out knee pain issue

Several Bulls got their first taste of playoff experience while losing 4-1 to Milwaukee.

It could have been Lonzo Ball's playoff debut, but he never came back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and last played on Jan. 14. He spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since the injury.

"It's very frustrating," Ball said. "This year, we had a lot of promise I felt like. And we had a lot of goals that I don't think were met, mainly due to a lot of health issues. You can't change the past. I think everything happens for a reason. For me, it's now about moving forward and getting ready for next year."

The first step in getting ready for 2022-23 is getting healthy. Ball said he's still experiencing pain in the left knee and is planning to visit another specialist next week.

"I'm kind of at a standstill right now," he said. "Still have pain. So got to get that figured out this summer for sure."

Watching the Bulls shoot poorly from 3-point range against the Bucks added to Ball's frustration. He averaged 13 points this season and shot a career-best 42.3% from 3-point range.

"I felt like (Milwaukee's) defense was kind of pack the paint in and load up on guys," Ball said. "I feel like my shooting could've for sure helped. And also obviously defensively versus the guys they have on the other side that are all-stars.

"You can't change what already happened. I couldn't be out there. So I didn't tell the guys, 'Oh, I wish I was out there with y'all.' Or, 'I could've been doing this if I was there.' It was more about them. They were there. They were ready. And I was just encouraging them."

Continuity in question:

One question for any team when the season ends is who will stick around. Outside of Zach LaVine, all the key Bulls are under contract for 2022-23, so it seems likely the Bulls will look mostly the same, likely with a couple of new additions.

"They want to have continuity, that's for sure," center Nikola Vucevic said after meeting with team management. "They want to see what this thing looks (like) and what it can do. As far as moves they can make, I don't really know that. That's their job. But I know they want to continue to build a team that can win and can compete to the highest level, so that's the goal."

DeMar DeRozan came away from his meeting feeling good about the plan in store.

"I got the utmost trust, faith and hope in the front office to do the job," he said. "Just like we're competitors, they are as well, for the right reasons. That's all you can ask for and you let them put the cards together and we go out there and play with the deck we have."

Older, but getting better:

DeMar DeRozan on the reality of turning 33 on Aug. 7. He scored a career-best 27.9 points this season, but how long can that continue?

"If LeBron's still doing what he's doing (at 38), I've got hope," he said. "I'm only going to be 33, so I should be fine. Taking care of myself physically, mentally is a big part to this whole thing. I've been blessed to be able to stay healthy for the most part. At the end of the day I look at it like I'm getting smarter and I'm getting more of a will to keep being better."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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