The long wait is over for Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball.
Coach Luke Walton announced in Tuesday's practice that Ball will come off the bench in tonight's preseason home game against the Golden State Warriors (10:30 ET, ESPN).
Ball has been sidelined more than six months because of left knee injury woes that began in late March and led to arthroscopic surgery in July. He has participated in most of training camp after not being cleared for the start of camp to participate in full-contact practice. The former No. 2 pick in the 2017 Draft, Ball said Tuesday he is simply looking forward to playing again.
🎥 Luke Walton gives updates on Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart's statuses for Wednesday pic.twitter.com/3jYS5P2jET— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 9, 2018
“It gets frustrating when you play basketball for your whole life and then it gets taken from you for a little bit,” Ball said.
As he recovered from his injury, Ball used the time he wasn't doing on-court workouts to bulk up for the 2018-19 season. He estimates that he added 15-20 pounds over the summer, making his weight between 205 and 210 pounds.
Walton will start veteran guard Rajon Rondo tonight, but said he is looking forward to moments when Rondo and Ball will be on the court together.
“It’s nice, because they’re both selfless, playmaking guards that make their teammates better,” Walton said. “Those are the type of guys we want on the floor. Most of the time, to be able to have at least one of those guys at the point is a big plus for us.”
Fellow second-year Lakers guard Josh Hart is listed as questionable tonight. He tweaked his hamstring early in Monday's practice, causing some concern, but Walton said Hart is doing fine now.
“He wanted to practice today, but it was tight still, so I told him to just sit out and watch, make sure that he stays healthy," Walton said. "He’s very important to what we do, so we want to start the season as healthy as can be, so it was more just being safe today and not letting him go.”
Ball played in just 52 games during his rookie season, but was back on the court in early June and said he was feeling "100 percent" following a knee procedure. Per reports, the former No. 2 overall pick received a platelet-rich plasma shot for the ailing left knee that kept him out of the final portion of the regular season.
In the 2017-18 season, Ball averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds per contest while shooting 36 percent en route to earning NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors.
Over the summer, the Lakers added Rondo to a training camp point guard rotation that also includes Alex Caruso, Issac Bonga and Joel Berry II. Marquee free-agent addition LeBron James is a more than skilled NBA playmaker as well. He could easily initiate and direct some of the Lakers' offense this season.