Lonzo Ball guards LeBron James during Lakers practice at the UCLA Health Training Center on Oct. 8, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)

Lakers Await Lonzo's Return

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

With the regular season only 10 days away, the Lakers are inching closer to full health, as Lonzo Ball could potentially return to game action for Wednesday’s exhibition in Las Vegas.

Ball has practiced full-contact with the team for nearly the entirety of training camp, but has yet to play in the preseason as part of his recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July.

Coach Luke Walton is looking forward to seeing Ball have more opportunity to mesh with his teammates.

“I know we need the practice at it,” Walton said. “As great as it will be to be healthy and have guys [at] full-strength, for me it’s more important for them to start getting reps together. Everyone else in camp has had that opportunity for two weeks now. Lonzo hasn’t.”

Walton also mentioned that LeBron James — who has not confirmed to be playing Wednesday — could see his workload pick up from the 15 minutes per game he has been playing this preseason.

James said that Ball, as last year’s starting point guard, “knows this system better than anybody.” With either Ball or Rajon Rondo running point at all times, James sees a significant impact from having both players available.

“When you got two born point guards — they were just born to be point guards — running the show,” James said, “it just puts people in their respective, right positions. And they command that.”

The Lakers, however, did suffer a potential setback at Monday’s practice, as Josh Hart left early after tweaking his hamstring. He will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

Walton has trotted out some unconventional lineups — including an all-guard group in Saturday’s preseason game — but would like to use the remaining two exhibitions to evaluate combinations that could see time in the regular season.

However, that is dependent on Hart’s availability.

“If he doesn’t play, the ripple effect starts to go into play,” Walton said. “We’re going to continue to look at different groups, but we also know that the season’s starting pretty darn soon now. So Wednesday would be a good opportunity for us to give more time to what we like so far.”

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