With the Los Angeles Lakers all but officially and mathematically eliminated from the postseason thanks to their loss Monday night, updates on the status of the starting point guard whose absence has played a central role in reaching this current situation are bittersweet.
That doesn’t mean they won’t come, though. Mike Trudell of Lakers.com was there to watch Tuesday’s practice wrap up and he grabbed some video of what Ball has been up to lately.
Lonzo Ball continues to work with the strength and athletic training staffs trying to get back from his ankle injury. He’s yet to do anything on the court with the team, though is currently doing some light shooting (but not really jumping): pic.twitter.com/1zSK8CLcsH— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 5, 2019
Lakers head coach Luke Walton told reporters that it’s not the first time Ball has done this type of shooting since getting hurt.
“That type of stationary, spot-shooting, he’s done that a couple times, but that’s as much as he’s done,” Walton said.
Still, this is progress, even if it’s progress by only the most basic of definitions. If after all this time, Ball is still only barely jumping, it’s hard to see him returning very soon, if at all, let alone in time to turn the season around.
As we’ve said before, though, this was likely always going to be the case. Grade 3 ankle sprains often require surgery and lengthy recovery periods. In the somewhat unlikely event that surgery isn’t required, the timetable for return is often between 10-12 weeks. In the rarest of cases, some athletes can return in eight weeks, but given Ball’s history of taking a little longer to return, that was never really realistic to hope for.
Which makes it all the dumber that the Lakers ever made it seem possible for Lonzo to return in four-to-six weeks. All that leads to is frustration when Ball doesn’t return within that unrealistic timetable.
The question now becomes whether Ball will return at all this year. As I said earlier, Grade 3 sprains often require surgery. We already saw last summer an operation get put off as long as possible only for it to be eventually be required, and thus impact the very beginning of Lonzo’s season.
It’s probably worth looking into whether Ball’s fullest recovery might involve surgery, and if that is the case, maybe getting that done now rather than in the offseason makes more sense for all involved.
If surgery isn’t necessarily required for an absolutely full recovery, but more time than even the 10-12 weeks is needed, then, given the lack of any real stakes to play for at this point, the Lakers should allow Ball to take all the time he needs to come back. This isn’t a matter of tanking per se, only making sure that he is 100 percent healthy whenever Ball makes his return to the court.
For those saying that the Laker should hold Lonzo out longer than is actually needed in order to improve the organization’s draft status, I can’t quite roll with that. For one thing, the league has made it so the difference in odds isn’t so stark the lower in the standings a team falls. This also by several accounts is not a particularly strong draft class. And quite frankly, the Lakers need to generate any positive momentum heading into this offseason that they can, and that’s basically impossible with Lonzo sidelined.
Don’t get me wrong, the top priority in all this is Ball’s health. There isn’t a close second to that. This season is all but officially wrapped up, but there are still minor victories to be had. But if even those aren’t possible, then planning for the both Lonzo and the Lakers future should take priority.