Lonzo Ball drives vs. OG Anunoby

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

by Jim Eichenhofer
@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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