When Bulls coach Billy Donovan says guard Lonzo Ball’s progress in rehab for his knee injury remains slow, he’s not underselling it.
Donovan said Friday that Ball has gone from shooting set shots on the practice court to ‘‘jumping a little bit’’ on those shots. He also has started some light jogging, as opposed to just jogging on the antigravity treadmill.
‘‘It is progressing, it’s just really slow,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘But there have definitely been some improvements, and he’s physically doing more than the last time we spoke.’’
That doesn’t mean that there’s a timetable for Ball to return this season or that the Bulls are writing that off, either.
It just is.
Like most updates about Ball in the last few months, there wasn’t a lot of positive to take from it. After Ball had a second surgery on his left knee in less than a year in September, he said he was going to take his time making sure everything was right before he returned.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, that has left a vacancy at point guard — especially late in games — and it doesn’t appear they will be looking to fill it from the outside anytime soon.
On Friday against the Pistons, second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu earned the start because Alex Caruso was just returning from the concussion protocol and a sprained shoulder. Caruso had been the usual starter recently, with Donovan going with a point-guard-by-committee approach.
That’s also the mentality Donovan has used to close games, with Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense depending on the actions in the set.
Veteran Goran Dragic is the closest player the Bulls have to a true point guard with Ball out, and he entered play Friday a plus-33 when he has been on the court this season. The issue with Dragic is his age (36) and the number of minutes the Bulls feel comfortable giving him.
A lot can happen between now and the trade deadline Feb. 9, but Donovan made it sound as though there hadn’t been a lot of discussion about acquiring a point guard.
‘‘Having Chris Paul for a year [in Donovan’s days with the Thunder], that’s a Hall of Fame, prototypical point guard — like, the best to do it,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Ayo’s kind of been a combo guy; Coby [White’s] been a combo guy. . . . I would put Lonzo in that [category] of a true pure point guard. Alex has played there some, as well. But I feel like there’s enough there that we can manage that position with what we have.
‘‘But is Ayo a pure point guard? Can he get better? Absolutely. Coby, I think, was there. Is he better off the ball? He can kind of do both. But I feel comfortable enough that whoever is back there can orchestrate and organize us.’’
The update about Ball aside, the Bulls continued to get healthier. Caruso was cleared to return, and forward Javonte Green has had no setbacks with his right knee since returning recently.
White (soreness in left knee) and forward Patrick Williams (bruised left shoulder) were banged up, but they played their normal rotation spots.
Only forward Derrick Jones Jr. remained out. He was still slowed by an injury to his left ankle suffered last week.