Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has missed most of the team’s last month of games, and it sounds like he might not play much the rest of this season if he returns at all.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he and the team are preparing like Ingram and Lonzo Ball won’t be back for the rest of this season, and while it sounds like both are progressing with their recovery, Walton might prove correct given that L.A. only has four games left to play.
Ball just has to get “pain-free” in order to return, but Ingram’s road back is slightly more complicated. Ingram has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol, which means that he’s going through the process of getting cleared to play again by independent doctors.
According to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, Ingram is getting closer, but still isn’t quite ready to return after he was officially ruled out for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves:
Brandon Ingram will have to go through several activities without his concussion symptoms returning before he can play. Today he did the first of those: riding a stationary bike. After 24 hours if the symptoms don't return, he'll go on to the next step. He's out for tomorrow.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) April 6, 2018
Per NBA rules, the next steps for Ingram are to progress from “jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills,” all without showing any recurring symptoms within 24 hours. Logistically, he just may not have enough time to get back before Wednesday if there are any hiccups in his recovery.
And with no playoff spot left to play for and nothing to do but play out the string, Ingram’s health matters a lot more than him getting back into the lineup for some final, meaningless games.
That reality isn’t something being taken into account by the independent doctor evaluating Ingram, but it’s important to remember nonetheless because while the Lakers would surely like to have Ingram (and Ball, for that matter) back this season, the team is a lot better off making sure their two hoped-for franchise cornerstones are all the way healthy before hitting the hardwood again.