Some mildly optimistic news about Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball: The team is confident that he'll be able to play at some point this season, according to Shams Charania. Ball had his second knee surgery of the calendar year on Wednesday, and he's reportedly going to be sidelined for at least a few months. 

When the Bulls announced last week that he'd have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, they said he would be re-evaluated in four to six weeks. The Athletic reported that he and the team will monitor how he responds to the surgery over the next two weeks, and his return date will depend on how his rehab goes. 

On Tuesday, Ball said he couldn't run or jump without pain. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in late January and missed Chicago's last 42 games of the regular season. The Bulls went 19-23 in those games, falling from first place in the Eastern Conference to sixth. He tried to ramp up his activity and get back on the floor, but knee pain persisted. 

Ball made a career-high 42.3 percent of his 3-point attempts last season and juiced Chicago's transition game. His absence was felt more acutely, however, on defense. The 2021-22 Bulls held opponents to 108.2 points per 100 possessions with Ball on the court, compared to 116.8 per 100 without him in non-garbage time minutes, per Cleaning The Glass. 

Another way of saying it: They defended like the No. 2-ranked Warriors with Ball on the court and like the No. 28-ranked Pacers without him. 

If defense is the priority, then Chicago should start Alex Caruso in Ball's place, as it did down the stretch last season. Ayo Dosunmu, coming off an impressive rookie season, is another option, though, as is 36-year-old free-agent addition Goran Dragic and fourth-year gunner Coby White.

Ideally, the Bulls will get enough out of those guys to stay afloat without Ball for a big chunk of the season. For them to build on what they did in the first few months of his tenure, though, they're going to need him to push the pace, take difficult defensive assignments and force turnovers upon his return -- whenever that may be.