Report suggests Bulls guard Ball won't be healthy by start of season

An ESPN report suggested that Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season due to lingering issues from his arthroscopic knee surgery.

Ball's slow recovery is old news, since the Bulls originally expected him to return to game action before the playoffs began. But it's certainly bad news if he's not ready to play when the Bulls open the season in Miami on Oct. 19.

If Ball isn't ready for training camp, when will he be ready? This was originally expected to be a six-to-eight-week recovery and it would be approaching nine months. If another surgery is required, the return date could be pushed back a few more months.

Ball's defense and outside shooting were integral in the Bulls' success early last season. He averaged 13 points, 5.1 assists and shot 42.3% from long range during his first season in Chicago, but played in just 35 games.

The Bulls already made contingency plans, signing veteran guard Goran Dragic as a free agent. Dragic is playing for Slovenia in the European championships. Last Sunday, he logged 25 minutes and scored 9 points in a 90-71 loss to Germany.

Earlier this summer, Dragic told a Slovenia news source that he expected to play 20 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, which suggests they'll go with Alex Caruso or Ayo Dosunmu at starting point guard if Ball isn't ready to play.

According to a tweet from Matej Sportinfo, Dragic said: "I'm old, I'm 36. I'm sure the legs aren't as fresh as they were five years ago. But I enjoy playing for the national team, especially for my teammates. It's a really special group of guys.

A player the Bulls targeted this summer, forward Danilo Gallinari, suffered a torn ACL while playing in Europe and will likely miss the season. He decided to join Boston instead of the Bulls.

Bulls training camp is expected to begin Sept. 29 at the Advocate Center.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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