Donovan believes in Bulls' future, with or without Ball

Bulls coach Billy Donovan said he expects Lonzo Ball's next knee surgery to happen sometime next week, but wasn't sure of the exact date.

As for whether Ball will ever play again for the Bulls, Donovan is in the same boat as everyone else: No idea.

"I do feel optimistic because I see him and his desire to want to come back," Donovan said before Friday's game. "So if there's an opportunity for him to come back, I believe because of his willingness to work, he'll get there. You always hold out hope that he's exhausting every opportunity to get back on the floor."

The future direction of the Bulls is also in question, with Ball possibly missing all of next season, center Nikola Vucevic headed into free agency, and the Bulls potentially bumping up against the luxury tax. Donovan said Friday he's onboard for any scenario.

"I think I said this the very first time I got the job, I was looking for a partnership," Donovan said. "The relationships (with the front office) are such where we can have these honest discussions, where I can say, 'Here listen, I'm coaching these guys every single day. Here's my opinion, here's my thoughts, here are some ideas.' I like that working relationship here."

Donovan was careful to point out he wasn't trying to say he didn't enjoy the working relationship in Oklahoma City when he left the Thunder in 2020.

"I think when you have that (good relationship), you can figure things out," he said. "To me what happens is when you get totally sideways - everybody's not talking, everybody's upset, everybody's angry. That has not taken place. There's been really good connection here through all this, which I respect and appreciate. So I do believe in the people that are here."

It probably helped that Donovan got a contract extension from the Bulls last summer.

DeRozan misses his DJ:

Asked about Lonzo Ball's extended injury Friday, DeMar DeRozan kept his concern on Ball's well-being, not the future of the Bulls.

"We miss the heck out of him, just him being around on the daily," DeRozan told reporters at the morning shootaround. "He was the DJ on the plane. The whole element he brought to the team, we definitely miss that. We just want the best for him. He got all our full support no matter how long it takes.

"It's bigger than basketball. Taking away something for so long, him not being able to play basketball, just takes a toll on him. So more so than anything, as a friend just worrying about him. I could care less about anything to do with the team."

DeRozan was asked if he could imagine being forced to stop playing basketball for more than a year.

"Nah, I couldn't imagine it," he said. "It could drive anybody crazy, taking away something you love so much."

Green gets to work:

Javonte Green went through a full practice with the Windy City Bulls on Friday, coach Billy Donovan said. Green has been out since Dec. 31 with a knee injury, but is progressing toward a potential return next week.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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