The Chicago Bulls have officially clinched their spot in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. While all is going well on that front for Chicago, the team is still experiencing a tough loss.
Bulls guard Lonzo Ball joined the team during the offseason through a sign-and-trade involving his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
As Ball landed on the up-and-coming playoff contenders, he was expected to take a significant step with his development as he joined a talented roster.
Ball and the Bulls were thriving. Not only was Chicago an Eastern Conference contender throughout the year, but Ball was putting up impressive numbers as he averaged 13 points and five assists while shooting 42-percent from the field and draining a career-high of 42-percent of his threes in 35 games.
Unfortunately, his season was knocked off track as he suffered a knee injury. While the injury was not initially viewed as something that could be season-ending, the rehabilitation process is not going as planned.
According to ESPN’s Jamal Collier, Ball’s chances of missing the rest of the Bulls’ season are slowly increasing as the veteran guard is still experiencing discomfort.
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The Latest on Ball
No final decision has been made, but a meeting in the coming days that is expected to include Bulls officials and Ball’s representatives at Klutch Sports is more and more likely to culminate with shutting down Ball for the rest of the season, sources said.
“I would imagine in the next day or two we’ll probably have a little bit more once everybody sits down and talks,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said before Tuesday night’s 127-106 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. “It’s disappointing from the standpoint you were hoping that the time he had off would help maybe propel him going forward to do a little bit more. But that certainly hasn’t been the case.” via ESPN
The Impact on Philadelphia
The Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks are among six teams that guaranteed their trip to the playoffs this season at this point. While they are both in the postseason, the East’s seeding isn’t set in stone just yet.
With a 49-30 record, the Sixers are in a three-way tie with the Bucks and the Boston Celtics. If the season ended today, the 76ers would lock-in as the fourth seed and would face the Toronto Raptors.
But with a few games left in the season, the seeds could change, and the Sixers could end up drawing the Bulls in the first round. In that case, Philadelphia would face a team they’ve had plenty of success against this season that might not be the best version of themselves, with Ball potentially out for the remainder of the year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.