As the Los Angeles Lakers and NBA as a whole inch closer All-Star Weekend, the possibility that Lonzo Ball will be sidelined until after the break by a sprained MCL becomes all the more likely.
“Like we’ve said the whole time, we’re not going to rush him back,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton reiterated. “I think if you do look at it, if we get up to the day before All-Star Game, the last game, it’s one of those things that we’ll sit and discuss as a staff and organization.
“But at that point you probably say let’s give him an extra week and get him back afterwards. We’re going to keep taking it day-by-day, see how he feels in the mornings, do his workouts accordingly, then when we get close to All-Star, make that final decision if he’s not back by then.”
During the Lakers’ recent road trip, Ball was pushed through more on-court activity than he’d previously been since suffering the knee injury on Jan. 13.
He felt pain, which caused the team to back off. That threshold is one Ball needs to overcome before the Lakers feel comfortable with putting him back on the court.
“We’re not going to get him out there where if he’s making any movement, whether it’s lateral or explosion to the rim, that he has pain when he does it,” Walton explained. “That’s kind of, ‘Stop it right there.’ And we’ll go back to where he has no pain as far as the workout is concerned.
“We’re not going to keep trying to push through that pain. But there will probably be some sort of discomfort even when he’s healthy enough to play.”
In previously discussing Ball’s status, Walton said the rookie point guard was more “aggressive” with his work on Monday. However, that too included a point where Ball felt pain in his left knee.
“With a knee injury, I think you’ve got to be a little more careful. Especially when you’re talking about a young player in this league and making sure the No. 1 thing is his health going forward,” Walton said.
“A sprained ankle, you get it to a certain point and then you push through it. But with knee injuries, things like that, you’ve got to be a little more careful.”
If Ball misses each of the Lakers’ next four games, he presumably will not participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 16. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are also slated to represent the team in the kickoff to NBA All-Star Weekend.
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