With the start of Los Angeles Lakers training camp less than one week away came news Lonzo Ball has not been cleared to participate in five-on-five scrimmages.
After undergoing left knee surgery during the offseason, Ball was expected to make a full recovery come training camp. Although that doesn’t quite appear to be the case, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka nevertheless is optimistic.
“In terms of the official update on his medical status, the news has been great. He’s been 100 percent cleared by our medical staff to return to full basketball activity,” Pelinka explained. “Because he hasn’t played 5-on-5 for four or five months, there is with any player who’s had surgery, a progression to come back.
“So he started that progression. He will participate in our training camp and everything other than 5-on-5 contact drills at the beginning but will progress along that continuum and we’ll take it a day at a time. The fact that he’s been 100 percent cleared and is feeling great, is good news.”
After five days of camp, the Lakers will begin the preseason on Sunday, Sept. 30, against the Denver Nuggets. Whether Ball will miss that game, or others in exhibition or the regular season, remains unclear.
“It’s impossible to predict the future when you’re coming back from an injury,” Pelinka said. “I really don’t know how to answer that other than we feel great with where he’s at and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”
Unlike the 2017-18 season, the Lakers have numerous playmakers now, highlighted by LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. While there was pressure for Ball to implement head coach Luke Walton’s style and pace, the top priority is his long-term health.
Although Ball was criticized for his form and poor percentages, he nearly averaged a triple-double playing the most difficult position in the league. With a year of experience and improving his form during the offseason, there is great optimism for Ball if he can stay relatively healthy.