There is very much a domino effect at play in Chicago as the franchise deals with the fallout of Lonzo Ball’s third surgery.
The surgery and Ball’s absence isn’t the biggest thing plaguing the team, as Ball has been out for a long time already, but it’s the flow-on effect it will have on other players.
In Lonzo’s first season with Chicago he brought an up tempo, unselfish style of play that made the Bulls a must-watch, which hasn’t been the case since they had a young Derrick Rose.
Ball may not take the court until October 2024, or might not even make it back at all after he underwent cartilage transplant surgery on his left knee on Monday.
Patrick Beverley, Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Ayo Dosunmu are five players that will be particularly impacted by Ball’s murky future with the team. Let us explain.
The Bulls decided not to trade big man Nikola Vucevic at the deadline despite the rumors, so they must be looking to re-sign him right? Not necessarily.
His current team may have to pay him a hefty salary, which is something they may not be willing to do.
The 32-year-old could get slightly more money if he decides to stay loyal, or he could opt to go to a title-chasing team, instead of fighting for a play-in spot.
Interestingly, Bulls coach Billy Donovan said this after a game last week: “Vooch is always going to be an efficient player based on the people around him and how he gets the ball.”
If the Bulls best passer and playmaker is out for an extended period of time, just how efficient will Vucevic be?
Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan has over the last two seasons re-established himself as one of the most prolific scorers we’ve seen, but he is pushing 34 years of age.
With Ball’s contributions, DeRozan and LaVine jelled way better together than without him, so a fresh, successful team could be just what DeRozan needs to see out his career in a fitting way.
Even when rumors were rife around the trade deadline that DeRozan was being moved, he was very coy with it all and continues to be now.
“You never know what happens, man. You never know,” DeRozan said last week. “All you can do is control whatever I have in front of me, and today that’s to play the game and let everything else take care of itself.”
After recovering from knee surgery, LaVine had a slow start to the season but his performances are shaping up to be some of the best in his career.
Last summer, he signed a five-year $220 million contract. A huge amount of money for someone who hasn’t found their groove with a backcourt player as yet. Ball could have been that player.
The shooting guard is currently averaging 25 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists on 48.2 percent shooting from the field. For perspective, MVP candidate Joel Embiid is shooting 54.6 percent from the field.
LaVine isn’t the type of player that is going to win you a championship unless he has the right pieces around him and as of right now, he doesn’t.
Patrick Beverley is clearly very much enjoying his time back home and the results speak for themselves, as the Bulls are 8-4 since his arrival. He’s brought a real energy since joining the team, similar to Lonzo’s which the team has been missing.
Chicago would be wise to offer him an extension on his one-year rental, unless he drives his price up in this last stretch of the season.
His impact just goes to show how desperately the Bulls needed someone who has experience, is vocal and can score points.
Now that Ball is out of the picture indefinitely (for now), the start of next season has an open point guard spot.
It will take a lot of hard work over the summer, but youngster Ayo Dosunmu could become a lead guard for his hometown team, especially if the Bulls do blow it up and start again.
It is only his second season in the NBA and Dosunmu has made slight improvements and has the potential to go even further, especially with more time out on the court.
Making room in the cap by trading players like LaVine, Vucevic could very much pave the way for a young Bulls team to make their mark as Dosunmu could be joined by Coby White, Patrick Williams and Derrick Jones Jr., for example.