Ball of Bulls reveals she received a rare meniscus transplant from a donor

Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since January 2022, spoke Friday about his recovery from knee problems over the past two years and said part of a donor meniscus transplant is recovering.

Speaking on his podcast, “The WAE ShowPaul said his problems began when he first tore his meniscus in 2018 while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul said that after a series of injuries to his left knee, he eventually had no cartilage left in his knee. And last year he had a cartilage transplant.

“No more menses and the bone rubs off,” Paul said. “The cartilage was gone and the bone disintegrated, so I had to get a new meniscus from a donor. I had to get a bone allograft and put in some new cartilage.”

After more than a year of seeing specialists to properly diagnose the problem with his knee, Paul underwent cartilage replacement surgery in March 2023, the third surgery on his left knee in the space of a year. Ball and the Bulls both said at the time that they believed the surgery would give the 26-year-old Ball the best chance to return to the court in the near future, and ruled him out of this most recent season in June.

“We wasted a year trying to figure out what the problem was,” Paul said on the podcast.

Although Paul will miss the entire 2023-24 season, he has been able to progress in his rehabilitation by doing basic exercises such as running and not experiencing the same discomfort as in the past. Earlier this month, he posted a video of himself playing basketball on his social media accounts and estimated his knee was about 70% on a previous episode of the podcast.

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“Good enough to play with, but I think it could be better,” Paul said. “I still have a long summer ahead of me, but I’m definitely looking forward to the future.

Ball exercised his player-option earlier this month for the final season of a four-year, $80 million contract as part of a deal and trade from New Orleans to Chicago in the summer of 2021. Bulls since then, but he is confident he will be ready to play by the start of the 2024-25 season.

“I’m sure of it,” Paul said. “That’s the plan I’m in, I don’t have any setbacks. I expect to play in the first game.”

The Bulls have been holding out hope for Ball’s return, but he clearly has a few more hurdles before he can return to the lineup. He did not participate in five-on-five scrimmages or play with any physical contact. The Bulls hope he can get some team action in the offseason before approaching his status for next season.

“We’re going to wait and see his progress over the next couple of months,” Bulls VP Arturas Karnisovas said at his season-ending press conference in April. “He’s progressing really well. Everything is without any setbacks, so we’ll see where he’s at in a couple of months.”

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