ANAHEIM — The Los Angeles Lakers were missing both Lonzo Ball and LeBron James in their loss to the LA Clippers on Saturday night, but according to head coach Luke Walton, the latter was held out for rest while the former sat because it would give him two full days off before the team resumed practice and tried to get him ready to play against the Golden State Warriors.
“(Lonzo is) close, and it’s just us playing it safe for now. We have tomorrow off, so it’s a nice two-day rest where he can just get treatment and we’ve got two days of solid practice before the next game,” Walton said. “He’s getting real close.”
When followed up on whether Ball was “close” enough that fans could expect to see he and James share the floor for the first time as teammates on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Walton said that would “most likely” happen.
“That’s one of the things I still need to see is what lineups look like when both guys are playing. I’m excited and hopeful, but we’re going to take it day by day. Any setbacks or whatnot, we won’t rush it, but I’d expect that it happens,” Walton said.
Ball returning to play Wednesday night after missing the Lakers’ first four preseason games would be a huge boon for the team as they try to instill their new offensive concepts and the pace they want to play with, facets of the game (especially the latter) that Ball should help with due to his quick-trigger passing and exemplary floor vision.
Whether Ball starts with James or just plays with him in staggered lineups, getting two key pieces of what the Lakers are trying to do this year on the floor with each other would be huge for the Lakers moving forward. Obviously the team has to prioritize Ball’s health and any need for rest from James, but if both can play in at least one of the Lakers’ final two preseason games, it could help them and all of their teammates adjust to what this team will look like at full strength and aid everyone in settling into their normalized roles.
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