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Going into last season, the Chicago Bulls posed a threat to Eastern Conference contenders such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and the Boston Celtics.

After making critical acquisitions by grabbing DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball for the starting lineup, the Bulls looked like they were ready to take the next step.

At first, Chicago was relevant at the top of the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, several key injuries hurt the Bulls throughout the 2021-2022 season.

The key acquisition Lonzo Ball was among one of Chicago’s consistently injured players throughout last season. After appearing in 29-straight games to begin his run with the Bulls, Ball suffered an injury, which took him off the court in late December.

Although he returned six games later and played six-straight games — Ball went out again on January 15. His 15-point performance against the Golden State Warriors in a tough 42-point loss on January 14 was the last time Ball saw the court last year.

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Chicago embarked on a playoff run that was short-lived. After making it to the first round, the Bulls didn’t get very far as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.

The Bulls expect to compete for a playoff spot next season, but their starting guard Ball is again battling a setback.

The Latest on Ball

According to the Bulls' Twitter account, Ball is slated to undergo surgery on his knee. Per the report, Ball is expected to be re-evaluated in four-to-six weeks.

With NBA teams firing up training camp in a week, Ball is guaranteed to miss the Bulls’ camp and is on pace to miss the entire preseason as well.

Even without Ball, the Bulls still pose a threat in the East early on. However, the absence of the sharpshooting playmaker could stunt Chicago’s growth at the beginning of the year.

As Ball’s knee concerns linger, the top teams of the East will have their eyes on Chicago as his absence is concerning for the Bulls, who hope to crack the playoffs once again. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.