Lonzo Ball drives vs. OG Anunoby

Stan Van Gundy: Lonzo Ball optimistic about return from knee injury

by Jim Eichenhofer

New Orleans was the rare NBA team that dealt with almost no major roster disruptions over the first three weeks of the 2020-21 season, including a short injury list and zero COVID-related absences. Unfortunately for the Pelicans – just like with the rest of the 30-team league – the second full week of January has brought much greater uncertainty, including a multi-game absence for starting point guard Lonzo Ball, due to bilateral knee tendinopathy.

The good news is that following Saturday’s practice in Sacramento, first-year Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy indicated that the 23-year-old believes a return to action could be on the horizon. New Orleans (4-7) lost the first two games in Los Angeles of what’s now a six-game road trip, while playing without Ball.

“He did not practice today, but he is getting closer,” Van Gundy said of Ball’s status. “He said he feels a lot better. He’s really working hard on strengthening the muscles around that knee, which seems to really help. I think he’s pretty optimistic about being able to come back at full strength, and pretty optimistic that (his return is) not in the distant, distant future. I think we’re talking more days to a week (for Ball playing in a game) than weeks.”

New Orleans (4-7) will play Game 3 of its six-game trek Sunday at Sacramento, with tip-off at 9 p.m. Central in Golden 1 Center.

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