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Lakers News: Lonzo Ball progressing toward contact drills, team practice

The Lakers are closer to getting Lonzo Ball back on the floor.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

After missing the last 12 games with a left MCL sprain, Lonzo Ball could be just days away from making his return to the floor with the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to the latest report from team reporter Mike Trudell, Ball is in what sounds like the final stretch of his rehabilitation process.

Ball told reporters on Wednesday he didn’t expect to miss as much time as he has, which he said is the most time he’s missed in his career.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this serious, to be honest. ... There was never a timeline for it.” Ball told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “It was kind of just a thing that came up. I thought it was going to be dealt with quicker but obviously my body didn’t react to it that well. I should be back hopefully soon.

“It’s pretty tough,” he added. “This is the most games I’ve ever missed in my whole life but it’s always good to see my teammates win. Especially in front of our home crowd which was definitely good last night. Just doing what I can to be a good teammate and support them.”

The Lakers struggled to win without Ball initially, going 0-8 in their first stretch of games without, but have since found ways to win with him sidelined, winning eight of their last 10 in his absence. Still, having Ball back will help this team tremendously on both ends of the floor, assuming he picks up where he left off.

In the month of December, Ball averaged 12.2 points on 37.7 shooting from behind the arc, while also contributing 6.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Ball had the second-best defensive rating on the team only behind Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut through December.

Ball is expected to return to the starting lineup upon his return, but who will join him is yet to be seen, with Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye both expected to make their debuts on Saturday vs. Dallas. The Lakers reportedly plan to “slowly” integrate Thomas into the starting lineup.