Lonzo Ball appears to be taking a step in the right direction towards playing again. The Chicago Bulls guard has not played since 2021-22 because of a persisting knee injury. However, he's now been cleared to resume running now that he's no longer in pain, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

"Everything they've done in terms of progressing him he's handled very well," Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said. "The pain that he was experiencing that was causing the setback, I think, has been eliminated in terms of what he's doing now  but he hasn't run. The next progression for him will be to start running and that will be here in January."

Per the report, Ball has since returned to Chicago to develop a plan in conjunction with Bulls staff in order to help facilitate his potential return to the court. 

It has been a tumultuous two-plus years for the 6-foot-6 guard. Initially, Ball underwent surgery to repair a torn left meniscus sometime between late January and early February of 2022. The surgery stemmed from an injury he suffered earlier on Jan. 14 against the Warriors -- his last game played. His initial timetable following the procedure was 6-8 weeks, though in his attempt to ramp up ahead of a return, he continued to suffer discomfort. As a result, Ball was shut down for the remainder of that season, having just played 35 games. 

Ball then underwent a second surgery in September 2022, this time an arthroscopic debridement on the same knee. At the time, he was given a re-evaluation timetable of 4-6 weeks. In a mirror following his first surgery, Ball continued to experience discomfort when attempting to perform basketball-related activities. By February of 2023, he was ruled out for the remainder of the season. Several weeks later, Ball underwent a third surgery on his knee in March. 

He received a cartilage transplant and was ruled out indefinitely following the procedure. In July, the NBA granted the Bulls a disabled player exception for Ball. The total amount given to the Bulls was $10.2 million and followed news that the guard would miss the entirety of the 2023-24 season. 

Still, even if the 26-year-old isn't expected to play during the current campaign, this development in his recovery is significant. The two-way guard played some of the best basketball of his young career in his first 35 games with Chicago. His counting stats dropped while serving as Zach LaVine's backcourt partner but he remained an above-average playmaker and defender while shooting a career-high 42.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In his limited time with the franchise, Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Additionally, he provided a steady hand on defense for a Bulls team that expected to compete. 

Ball. who was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was part of a sign-and-trade deal between the New Orleans Pelicans and Bulls. The agreement had Ball signing a four-year $85 million contract in exchange for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick. He has a player option for the 2024-25 season. Assuming that he picks up the option, he'll become a free agent ahead of the 2025-26 season at 28 years old.