While some might lament another Lakers preseason loss — this time to the Jazz — or rejoice in what has been the revelation that Kyle Kuzma is legit, the status of that pesky Lonzo Ball ankle injury has been lurking in the background. The prized rookie point guard missed his third consecutive preseason game Tuesday and it seems he’s still not ready to get back on the court.
Lonzo didn’t practice today.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 11, 2017
What does that mean for Friday’s exhibition game, you might ask? Well…
Luke Walton said he is “hoping” Lonzo Ball can play Friday. “Do I plan on him playing? No.”
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 11, 2017
After Ball sat out the Kings game on Sunday, October 9th, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reported it was possible Ball could miss the rest of the preseason.
“I hope not, but yeah, that’s a possibility,” Walton said when asked if Ball could miss the rest of the preseason. “It is different with every player. He is new to the team, so we’ve got to see how long these types of injuries take him to come back from. We’d like to have him back, but again, we are not going to rush him back just to try to get him out there.”
The context of those quotes was less ominous than the headline, but it seems the initial headline may prove correct. Today is Wednesday and while Lonzo could certainly hop on the court for practice on Thursday or go through shootaround on Friday before the game, if he misses those sessions he will not play. Walton wants players to practice before playing, after all.
What’s most important, of course, is that Ball is ready for the team’s season opener on October 19th. If practicing now or playing on Friday puts his availability for actual regular season games at risk, I’d prefer the team be cautious. On the other hand, reps are important — and not just practice ones. Ball has yet to play with Brook Lopez and Walton has shifted the starting lineup multiple times since the team’s first preseason game.
Getting his full five on the court in non-practice and non-scrimmage environments is better than the alternative. And I think Walton would be the first one to tell you this.
That said, from those on the scene, it doesn’t sound like Walton is optimistic this will happen. We’ll continue to keep you posted on Lonzo’s health status heading into Friday’s game.