The fact is that Lonzo Ball speaking to reporters for the first time since media day at the Bulls’ first practice since arriving in Paris for an NBA game in Paris — against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday — says more than any words he could have said. There will only be a handful of team media on hand, meaning fewer reporters, a shorter fight, and fewer headlines.
What Ball has said about his recovery from his second knee surgery – he hasn’t played for the Bulls for over a calendar year – is nothing new: He hopes to return to play this season, but there’s no timetable for his return yet. KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago was one of those reporters in Paris..
“I mean, naturally, yes, everything is on schedule,” Ball said when asked about the possibility of a time constraint. [to play this season]. “But I try to stay positive, I don’t lose hope. I would like to play. I would never count it. It’s been a long year, I feel like we’ve been successful now. So hopefully I will get better, the team will get better and we can meet.”
Ball also acknowledged that he wasn’t cleared to run at full speed or cut daily, so he still has a lot of buildup to do. However, there was optimism after Ball posted a video of himself running on Instagram.
Ball was asked about these videos.
“The process just started. To be able to do something, get back on the floor a bit, start running on the treadmill,” he said. “Obviously there is still some discomfort and some hitch. But this is the process of starting everything.
“It was my first run in almost a year. So it was just positive for me to just get on the treadmill and do something. This is not my normal walk. Obviously I have to go through with it. There will be pain from the surgeries and I will come back and move things. But I’m just trying to stay positive and move forward.”
Ball had his first knee surgery in January 2022, and he hoped – even expected – to return to the playoffs. However, when Ball’s knee didn’t respond well during rehab, things slowed down, and when it still didn’t improve, he had a second knee surgery before the season. This recovery is also slow.
Chicago has been playing better lately, but it’s still easy to see where they’re missing Ball on defense (where he was most valuable), in transition, and as a floor general. The Bulls led him 22-13 last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
Hopefully we’ll see him this year, but at what point will the Bulls just shelve the idea?
In slow-fire trading season (at best), the league’s eyes are on the Toronto Raptors – they can bring the market to a boil in just a couple of moves. Will the team, now stuck somewhere in between – somewhere where Masai Ujiri won’t let her live – be able to take the dramatic step to turn around by the trade deadline?
Probably not, but nothing is out of scope for the table. Here’s the latest on how things are going with them, according to report by Jake Fisher from Yahoo Sports.
• Fred VanVliet is a name that other teams are interested in, but the Raptors are more likely to secure an extension with the 29-year-old point guard after the season than move him.
Fred VanVleet’s apparent trade seems to have more to do with his poor performance this season as the smaller guard nears his 29th birthday than the front office’s willingness to part ways with such a central team leader.
Both VanVleet and the Raptors agreed to delay renewal negotiations until the end of the season. Fisher evaluates something in Kyle Lowry the extension range is three years, $100 million—although that could be a bit high after a poor season (18.2 points per game, but more worrisome is 37.6% shooting overall). Then again Tyler Herro a contract (four years, $130 million) could add up. If the Raptors and VanVleet can’t reach an agreement by July 1, expect the Suns and Magic to be among the teams interested in a free agent.
• The guy the other teams are hoping for will become available. And Anunobi. Don’t bet on it. He was arguably the best perimeter defenseman in the league and the Raptors see him as a key player going forward.
Meanwhile, Raptors officials left rival front offices with the impression, sources say, that it would require a catch of at least the amount of Atlanta’s off-season price for Dejont Murray – several unprotected picks in the first round – for Toronto to even consider parting ways with OG Anunoby, a well-known favorite of Ujiri.
• Pascal sorry – All-NBA player – will shake up the market, but it is unlikely that he will be available. If so, it would take a catch almost at Harden’s level to close the deal (more of a summer move than a deadline).
• Raptor most likely to be sold: Gary Trent Jr.
The Trent appears to be the most likely Raptor to sell, by a wide margin. Various rival executives were under the impression that Toronto would even try to move Trent before the deadline, as Trent could opt out of next season’s $18.5 million player selection and test leeway. According to preliminary data, Trent will seek more than $25 million on average in the year leading up to the start of the 2023-2024 campaign.
Trent is the league’s most sought-after player – a winger who can both defend and shoot threes – but whoever trades him should know he could re-sign and keep him this summer.
As with the Bulls, many teams are watching to see if the Raptors front office decides to do something bold at the trade deadline. Smart money on less, Trent only moves, but the teams are watching and will call.
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks have promoted Kyle Korver to assistant general manager as they continue to remodel their front office.
The move comes less than a month after Travis Schlenk stepped down as team president on December 21, with general manager Landry Fields taking over day-to-day operations. Schlenk was appointed to the post of adviser.
Fields was named CEO last year. His new role was announced ahead of Monday’s Hawks game against the Miami Heat.
Korver joined the Hawks in July 2022 as director of player relations and development. He spent the 2021–2022 season as a Player Development Assistant with the Brooklyn Nets.
Korver played nearly five seasons with Atlanta (2012–17) and was an All-Star in 2015.
“Kyle has brought a great perspective and voice to our group after seamlessly transitioning from playing to coaching to the front office,” Fields said in a statement released by the team.
“Moving forward, I’m delighted to have him even more involved in the day-to-day management and leadership of our basketball team.”
Fields and Korver are working with principal owner Tony Ressler’s son, Nick Ressler, director of basketball and business operations, on the new management team.
Korver played 17 seasons with Philadelphia, Utah, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland and Milwaukee. He is fifth in NBA history with 2,450 three-pointers.