NEW ORLEANS – As Josh Hart ran off the Pelicans home court on Wednesday morning, he stopped in front of Lonzo Ball, who was chatting with reporters, to tease the point guard about when he would return to the court.
“First game back after All-Star, man,” Ball responded. “I’ll be there.”
Ruled out earlier this week for Wednesday’s contest at New Orleans and Thursday’s game in Minnesota, Ball said he “definitely” expects to play on Feb. 23 against Dallas, 42 days after spraining his left MCL in an overtime win against the Mavericks.
While Ball has progressed to full contact practices, the Lakers will not practice until next Wednesday, by which time Ball expects to be free of the soreness that has persisted.
“It’s at a point where I can play but it still hurts a little bit. 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 still feels soreness in his knee when he pushes off with it and tries to slide defensively.
Ball was officially ruled out of Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge as part of All-Star Weekend. The NBA announced on Wednesday that Sacramento Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox would replace him in the exhibition that will also feature Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.
None of this is to say that Ball will be sitting around with his feet up when the NBA’s annual showcase descends on L.A. this weekend.
Ball moonlights as a rapper and will release a mixtape on Thursday. He will be on hand for a Big Baller Brand pop-up shop, which his father, LaVar, is expected to fly in for before heading back to Lithuania
“He will be here on Friday,” Ball said. “I haven’t (seen him) ever since he went over there, just on FaceTime.”
There are autograph signings and interviews. There will inevitably questions about LaVar’s recent comments that Lonzo Ball will not re-sign with the Lakers if the organization does not also sign his other two sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo.