Lakers' Ball expects to return right after All-Star break

Reuters

Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball said Wednesday he expects to return from a sprained left MCL injury in the first game after the All-Star break.

Ball will miss his 14th consecutive game on Wednesday night at the New Orleans Pelicans. He also will miss Thursday's game at the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ball, who sustained his injury on Jan. 13 against the Dallas Mavericks, also will not play in Friday night's Rising Stars Challenge game. He plans to use the extra week during the All-Star break to work out any lingering discomfort in the knee.

"I practiced yesterday, (and) it's at a point where I can play but it still hurts a little bit," Ball said after the team's shootaround Wednesday, per ESPN. "So they want to just get that out and take this week and we are playing good right now, so no need to rush it."

Ball said he "definitely" expects to be back in the Lakers' Feb. 23 home game against the Mavericks. The point guard said if he suffers no setbacks, he expects to play the following night at the Sacramento Kings as part of back-to-back games.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said Tuesday that Ball has looked good in his workouts, but the team is being cautious with bringing him back before he is fully recovered.

"He's still a little sore, but he's still making good progress," Walton said. "We're not going to play him (Wednesday) -- with a back-to-back and a week off after that -- the progress is great, but it just doesn't make sense to risk it right now."

Ball, who will miss a total of 15 games entering the All-Star weekend, told reporters he is expecting his first child with his high school girlfriend.

"Not yet," Ball told ESPN when asked if his life has changed dramatically yet. "Probably will when (the baby) gets here."

The second overall pick in the 2017 draft is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 36 games (all starts) this season.

--Field Level Media

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