The Disable Player Exception the NBA granted to Chicago for point guard Lonzo Ball was for $10.2 million, as he is slated to miss the entire 2023-2024 season for the Bulls, according to NBA Insider Shams Charania.

After the NBA Draft last month, Bulls vice president Arturas Karnišovas met with reporters and gave a brutal update on the 25-year-old that has battled through injuries in his young career so far.


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“Going into the offseason, our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season,” Karnišovas said. “He’s going to continue on his recovery. If he comes back, it would be great. But we’re just going to treat this offseason and get ready for the season that he’s not going to be back.”

The former second-overall pick (UCLA) from the 2017 NBA Draft had cartilage transplant surgery on his left knee back in March, his third knee surgery since January 2022. This added six months of rehab and recovery time, impacting this upcoming NBA season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This same injury plagued the tail end of his first year with Chicago, as it ended with him out for the year after a meniscus tear cost him a few weeks. During rehab, the setback he experienced post-surgery on the same knee was worse enough to declare him out for the remainder of the 2021-2022 season.

Only appearing in 35 games, this injury Lonzo suffered lingered on to the NBA 2022-2023 season, as he would be out for its entirety as well. With potentially three seasons affected by the same knee, Lonzo did have his best shooting season in Chicago, even in that short span of time, playing with shooting guard Zach LaVine and small forward Demar DeRozan.

That includes his time with the team he was drafted by, the Los Angeles Lakers for two seasons, and the New Orleans Pelicans for two seasons, as his field goal percentage (42%) and 3-point percentage (42%) with the Bulls were career highs. In 2021, Lonzo was the only NBA player to average five rebounds and five assists and shoot over 40% on 3s.

The last time he made an appearance for the Bulls healthy enough, Chicago was 27-13 on top of the Eastern Conference in 2021. Lonzo was traded on a sign-and-trade deal from New Orleans to Chicago in August 2021 and signed a four-year, $85 million contract extension. The Pelicans received Tomáš Satoranský, now part of the FC Barcelona of the Spanish Liga ACB and the EuroLeague, and current free agent Garrett Temple plus draft picks from that deal.

But now with money to spend with Lonzo’s injury designation and a roster spot, the Bulls could either trade for a player on their last year, sign a player to a one-year deal, or claim a waived player. Chicago has plenty of options, as that exception could be used either this summer or during the season.

So far, the only real addition was point guard Jevon Carter, as they brought him in free agency and re-signed backup shooting guard Coby White to an extension worth $40 million over three years. Carter could fill the void left with Lonzo out, as the Milwaukee Bucks received major contributions from him last season with veteran 31-year-old Khris Middleton easing back from injury. The 27-year-old could play the same role here as an important defender with another squad.

Although they have point guard Alex Caruso starting, there are heavy rumors the 29-year-old veteran defender will be traded. This Bulls team, other than LaVine, DeRozan, and 32-year-old veteran center Nikola Vučević, is lacking star talent in general and efficient three-point shooters. Chicago last season was dead last in the NBA made and attempted three-pointers, as a move prior to or during the trade deadline could or even a free agent pickup could improve that side of the team.

This is where Lonzo’s disabled player exception can come in handy, as the Bulls were 40-42, ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference. A major play for a player through the exception could help the team reach the playoffs again like the year before this past season.

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