The Los Angeles Lakers push for the postseason is, for all intents and purposes, over. L.A. currently sits 6.5 games back of the 8-seed in the Western Conference, and barring a torrid run over the final 17 games of the year mixed with the Clippers, Kings, and Timberwolves all collapsing, the Lakers are going to get a jump start on their offseason vacation plans.
It’s already been reported that, because of this, LeBron James will see his minutes go down and back-to-backs might be taken off the table. Additionally, Lakers coach Luke Walton told the press on Friday afternoon that it’s possible we don’t see Lonzo Ball again this season.
Ball has missed the last 18 games due to an ankle injury, and while it was expected he’d miss 4-6 weeks with the ailment, his return has taken longer than anticipated. Walton took that a step further, saying Ball still isn’t close to getting back onto the floor and that it’s possible he’s done for the season.
We’ll have to wait until Saturday to get some more clarity, but if this is true, it’d mark the second year in a row that Ball would miss substantial time due to injuries. The former UCLA standout appeared in 52 games as a rookie and has seen the floor in 47 as a sophomore. It would be a brutal blow if Ball isn’t able to finish out the year, but with the playoffs looking more and more like a pipe dream, there really is no point in rushing him back.