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LaMelo Ball diagnosed with ankle sprain, status uncertain for season opener

Charlotte's All-Star guard will not play in the team's preseason finale on Wednesday after an MRI revealed a sprained left ankle.

LaMelo Ball drives to the basket during the game against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 10, 2022.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday after an MRI on All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball confirmed the initial diagnosis of a sprained left ankle and revealed no significant long-term injury.

The Hornets said Ball’s return to full basketball activities will be “determined by his response to rehab and treatment and further updates on his status will be provided as appropriate.”

It’s unclear whether Ball will miss the Hornets’ season-opener on Oct. 19 at San Antonio (8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass).

Ball left Monday night’s game after Washington’s Anthony Gill stepped on his foot while he was driving toward the basket. Ball collapsed to the floor and remained there for several minutes before getting up, limping to the foul line and shooting two free throws.

He then exited the game and headed to the locker room.

Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said earlier Tuesday that Ball and center Mason Plumlee (foot) will not travel with the team to Philadelphia for Wednesday night’s preseason finale.

Clifford said Terry Rozier would start at point guard if Ball is out for the season opener.

“Terry was the starting point guard on a team (the Boston Celtics in 2017-18) that went to the Eastern Conference finals,” Clifford said. “It’s a role he is comfortable with and if that ends up being the situation, that is how we will do it.”

Clifford said he spoke with Ball, adding that he’s in good spirits.

“We talked about whatever the plan is, you have to be on the rehab,” Clifford said. “The better you are with it, the quicker you will get back. He was disappointed but very upbeat. It’s just part of the NBA.”

Clifford said the injury would also mean Dennis Smith Jr. would see more playing time.