Lonzo Ball has been out since Jan. 19 when he suffered a grade three ankle sprain that included a bone bruise. Since then the Lakers are 5-13 with a 116.3 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions), worst in the NBA. While Ball’s absence is not the only reason the Lakers’ defense has stunk, it’s a factor.
Ball is not close to a return and may miss the remainder of the season, coach Luke Walton said Friday. While team doctors will review his progress on Saturday, Walton said Ball is “not close to looking like he’ll be able to play yet.” Ball was reportedly doing some standing shooting drills, but nothing that really tests the ankle yet.
Walton added that the big thing was to make sure Ball was healthy heading into the offseason so he can do work to improve then.
Walton also talked about LeBron James Friday, saying while there was no official hard cap on how many minutes LeBron would play a game he would more closely monitor the workload.
In both cases (and the return of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and anyone else) the Lakers need to think big picture and long term. This season is toast, and while there needs to be a lot of internal soul searching and hard assessments throughout the organization as to why that is — starting with ownership and upper management — no decisions should be made thinking about the short term.