LOS ANGELES — The Lakers’ extreme caution with Lonzo Ball’s rehab from a sprained MCL could keep the point guard out through the All-Star break, Coach Luke Walton said Tuesday.
That, of course, would be the worst-case scenario, but it’s one the coach is now acknowledging is a real possibility.
“We’re not going to rush him back,” Walton said. “Let’s say he’s ready to play … the last game (before the break, Feb. 15 in Minnesota) … At that point we’d probably say let’s give him an extra week and get him back afterwards.”
Still, the coach stressed the Lakers are taking Ball’s recovery “day-by-day,” despite the long-term nature of the injury. He has not played since Jan. 13 and on Tuesday missed his 11th consecutive game.
Ball is scheduled to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 16, the opening night of All-Star festivities at Staples Center.
The Lakers did not practice Monday, but Ball was in the gym with assistant coach Miles Simon “and got some good work in,” Walton said.
However, when he reached the point when he experienced pain in his knee, Lakers trainers had Ball pull back.
That has been the nature of a surprisingly slow process.
“When he got to what hurt,” Walton said, “he stopped doing that and then went back to doing what didn’t hurt, which was more than he had done before.”
Walton acknowledged Ball will likely not be entirely pain-free by the time he returns – most NBA players are fighting through some kind of soreness at this point of the season
“With the knee injury I think you’ve got to be a little more careful,” Walton said, “especially when you’re talking about a young player in the league. … The No. 1 thing is his health going forward.
“If it’s a sprained ankle you get him to a certain point then you push through it. But with knee injuries, things like that, you’ve got to be a little more careful.”
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