It doesn’t sound like Lakers guard Lonzo Ball won’t be making his return back to the court any time soon. According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, Ball is expected to be out well past his original six-week timetable.
Here’s the latest of Ball’s status:
Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has been dealing with a bone bruise in his sprained left ankle that the team believes could extend his recovery past six weeks, according to two people familiar with Ball’s condition.
Ball has made progress toward his return, but he’s still a little ways away from returning to practice:
Ball began running on an underwater treadmill two weeks ago and last week he began work on an antigravity treadmill but was limited because of the bone bruise.
As disappointing as it might be for Lakers fans to hear it, this was likely always going to be the case.
Ball suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets on last month, which can be anywhere between a 75 percent to 100 percent tear of the two main ankle ligaments, according Silver Screen and Roll’s in-house doctor Rajpal Brar, DPT. That’s not something that is going to heal overnight. His description of bone bruises didn’t sound much more promising when he went over what they entail while Moe Wagner dealt with one earlier this season:
I’ve had one — if you’re on a bicycle, keep your head on a swivel at a four-way stop — and it thoroughly sucks because bone is densely innervated with nerve endings resulting in a lot of pain, swelling can travel from the bone to the muscles around it (in Mo’s case, the quads, calf, hamstrings, etc) which means more pain and limited function, and two nerves, the common peroneal and lateral sural nerve, are near the knee’s surface and prone to irritation.
It’s somewhat common for either of these nerves to become irritated after a lateral bone bruise and cause additional symptoms like tingling, numbness, feelings of “tightness,” etc.
For all these reasons, a bone bruise can linger for weeks to multiple months. You add in how conservative the Lakers training staff is with their less physically developed younger players (a zero pain return to play protocol, as we’ve seen during Lonzo’s various rehabs), plus the fact that Wagner isn’t an integral part of the rotation right now, and you have a recipe for him being held out for a significant amount of time.
The recent examples of recovery times for this particular injury also suggested that Ball would be out a few weeks past his original timetable, even without the bone bruise complicating things.
Last season, Matthew Dellavedova suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain and he was only supposed to be out four weeks. He ended up missing nine.
The same thing happened with Reggie Jackson, who was expected to return in 6-8 weeks after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain, but didn’t play a game for 12 weeks.
Of course, everyone heals differently and perhaps the Lakers have different resources available to them, but it’s more likely than not that Ball will be out close to another month.
Assuming Ball returns in exactly one month, the Lakers will have just 10 games left in the regular season by the time he’s healthy. That’s obviously not ideal, but they’d surely still rather have him before the regular season ends than not at all.
Until then, the Lakers will likely continue to roll out a starting five without a traditional point guard. So far, it hasn’t proven to be detrimental, and they’ll be hoping it stays that way.
Ball is a big part of everything the Lakers do on both ends of the floor, so having him back sooner rather than later would give them a nice boost for their playoff run, but if they can stay afloat without him, he’ll make the roster even more dynamic by the time the postseason rolls around. Get well soon, Lonzo.