Saturday was the day Lonzo Ball was meeting with Laker team doctors, and it was expected he, too, would have his season come to an end. That is the case according to multiple sources, but Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.
Ball suffered a grade 3 ankle sprain on Jan. 19 and has not played since. On Friday, coach Luke Walton said Ball was not close to a return, which made the call to shut it down easier.
Injuries have played a role in the Lakers coming apart this season, starting with LeBron James‘ groin injury on Christmas Day. The Lakers have gone 5-13 since Ball went down, having the worst defense in the NBA in that time.
Injuries are not the only cause, however. Denver has had its preferred starting lineup together for less than 150 total minutes this season, yet they are No. 2 in the West. Every team battles injuries, but the good teams have other players who can step up and carry the team through a rough patch. The veterans Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka signed to be “playmakers” around LeBron have let the team down.
The Lakers need to step back and have an honest moment of reflection and self-evaluation as this season ends. This has not been an organization run at an elite level for a while, and “we’re the Lakers” is not an identity. The Lakers have a big summer ahead and they need to nail it or the pressure is really going to become intense.