Bulls' Lonzo Ball underwent meniscus transplant during NBA injury absence


May 24 (UPI) -- Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball, who hasn't played in the NBA since 2022 because of knee issues, received a new meniscus from a donor during his time off the court, he said on his podcast.

Ball spoke about his journey back to the court in an episode of "What An Experience," which was published Friday on YouTube, Apple and Spotify.

Ball, 26, entered the league as the No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 2017-2018 All-Rookie selection joined the New Orleans Pelicans in a 2019 trade. The Pelicans traded ball to the Bulls in 2021.

He underwent numerous procedures throughout his first seven years in the league and missed the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.

"To make a long story short, it started with a meniscus tear with the Lakers, the first time. I tore it a couple more times to a point where there was not much meniscus left, basically bone-on-bone was rubbing," he said.

"The cartilage was gone and the bone was messed up so I had to get a new meniscus from a donor. I had to get a bone allograft and I had to get some new cartilage put in as well.

"All that finally healed up and I'm back on the court now. Really it was about 14-15 months in now. Before that, we were trying to figure out what the problem was. That was a wasted year. Now we're here."

Ball averaged 11.9 points, 6.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds through his first 252 career appearances. He logged a career-best 14.6 points in 2020-21 for the Pelicans. Ball averaged 13 points over 35 games for the Bulls in 2021.

Earlier this month, Ball exercised his $21.4 million for 2024-25 with the Bulls. He said on his podcast that he expects to play for the Bulls at the start of next season.

"That's the plan that I'm on, and I haven't had any setbacks," Ball said. "I expect to play the first game.

The Bulls were 39-43 this season, posting a losing record for the sixth time over the last seven years.