What had long been apparent was made official Wednesday, as Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball was ruled out from suiting up in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night as part of NBA All-Star Weekend. The Lakers will still be represented by Brandon Ingran and Kyle Kuzma.
Ingram and Kuzma were selected to participate in the league’s showcase of its most promising young talent, but the Lakers will be coming off of a back-to-back that started with their loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, and will continue when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Because back-to-backs are one of the most fatiguing events on the NBA schedule, Walton explained to Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group that doesn’t want two of his most important and promising young players making it three high-usage games in three nights:
“I need to figure out who’s coaching that team and call them and tell them not to play our players very many minutes because of the fact we had a back-to-back that they’ll be coming off of,” Walton said.
Houston assistant coach Roy Rogers is coaching the U.S. team, which Kuzma and Ingram will play on, while Toronto assistant Rex Kalamian will coach the World team.
Walton said 15 to 20 minutes “would be a lot to me.”
Given that the Rising Stars Game doesn’t involve a ton of defense, the one plus of this scheduling quirk is that at the very least whatever minutes Ingram and Kuzma do play won’t be as grueling as real NBA playing time.
With 10 players on each team, it would seem as though head coach Roy Rogers should be able to oblige Walton’s wishes and just run one of the healthier and more well-rested youngsters a few extra minutes.
That might not be the most exciting development for the fans in Staples Center for the game hoping to watch their hometown players, but they’ll have to settle for the knowledge that their favorite team is better off in the long run if it saves the legs of its best young players.
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