The Los Angeles Lakers have been without Lonzo Ball since Jan. 13, and when the rookie point guard will return from a sprained MCL in his left knee remains a question mark. Ball’s rehab process consists of testing his balky knee on a daily basis and monitoring how it responds the following morning.
He received treatment during Lakers practice on Wednesday and was slated for individual work with assistant coach Miles Simon in the afternoon. “The most I’ve probably done are a couple dribbles left and right, pulling up,” Ball said.
“Other than that, I’ve been taking it slow and trying to get back to 100 percent. I can’t take off, like full sprints, and obviously I can’t jump yet. Once I can do those things, that’s when hopefully I’ll get on the court.”
Ball was hopeful his workout with Simon would include defensive slides, as completing lateral movement without feeling pain is one of the hurdles to be cleared before returning to practice.
The Lakers began to ramp Ball up during their recent road trip, but he felt pain in his left knee, which in some sense reset the workout. “I wouldn’t call it a setback. It was a point where I knew if I did that, it was going to hurt,” Ball explained.
“But, definitely passed that point now, so it’s a good thing. We took a little bit off, got right back to it and we’ve been progressing ever since.”
Ball maintained a timetable for his return is not in place, nor was there one the Lakers presented him with after an MRI revealed the MCL sprain. The stretch of games missed due to injury is a new experience for the 20-year-old.
“It’s pretty tough,” Ball said. Compounding that is he did not anticipate being sidelined for any extended stretch when the injury first occurred. “I didn’t think it was going to be this serious, to be honest,” Ball said.
“After I did it, I felt it, but it went away and didn’t come back until the next day. Now we’re here. The only day I was really concerned was the day I woke up. I’d never felt that before. But after we got the MRI, everything was pretty much set, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Ever the optimist, Ball has used his time on the bench to further gain a better understanding of the Lakers’ strengths and weaknesses. “There’s a positive out of every situation,” he said.
The Lakers have four games remaining until the All-Star break, then will resume their schedule on Feb. 23. Ball will not suit up until he is able to participate in a full practice, which puts his availability for the Rising Stars Challenge in jeopardy.
“It would be my first time to experience All-Star, so definitely I would want to do it,” Ball said. “But if my body won’t let me, then I can’t do it.”
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