Including Sunday’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has missed the team’s last 10 games with an MCL sprain he sustained in a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 13.
The Lakers are a surprising 5-4 during that stretch, but the team has still clearly missed Ball’s impact on their pace and defense as he’s continued to nurse the nagging knee injury. The Lakers initially said Ball was dealing with a mild knee sprain.
Further details — explaining that Ball sustained an MCL sprain — were recently provided as the rookie point guard saw minimal progress in a recovery.
Although Ball had begun to do more of late, the Lakers remained adamant they would not rush his return and they did not have a timetable for when he’d be back on the court.
Now, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said Ball didn’t respond well to that increased activity on the road trip and he’s not on the verge of practicing Monday or playing just yet, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“There’s still some things we have to see. Before that practice started, he’d have to get on the floor with the coaches and really go full speed without contact first. But, yeah, if he woke up feeling really good and pushed it [Monday], then we’d continue to move in that direction. There were some times we had him push it a little bit, and he felt something. Whether or not he could’ve pushed through it, we decided as soon as he felt something to cut it back right then and just stick to the things that he didn’t feel anything doing. And we left it at that.”
Regardless of their record during Ball’s absence, the Lakers are still 4.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than they are when Ball on the bench, which is the largest swing on the team.
They clearly miss their hoped-to-be franchise point guard, even if he’s struggled to shoot. Still, the Lakers have to show caution with Ball because of just how much they’re banking on him.
The front office is clearly hoping Ball will be one of the Lakers’ major contributors on their road back to respectability, but he can’t lead them there if he can’t play or is dealing with nagging injuries.
The team might take a few short-term losses for their caution, but they’ll be better off in the long run.
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