When the Lakers open training camp on Monday, Lonzo Ball will participate.
But two months removed from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, he has not been fully cleared.
“He won’t be doing full five-on-five contact at camp, at the start of camp, so we’re starting to ease him into it again, play some one-on-one, things like that, half-court stuff,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said during an interview with Spectrum SportsNet.
“But with a player of his ability, and how much he’s going to be a part of our future, the conversation is … take as much time as you need to make sure he’s healthy. We won’t rush him back at all."
The surgery was performed July 17 after Ball continued to experience irritation in his right knee. The recovery for meniscus surgery can take anywhere from a few weeks to four months.
On the day of his surgery, the Lakers announced that Ball would make a full recovery by the start of camp. A week before the surgery, general manager Rob Pelinka set that expectation publicly during a news conference.
“He’s evaluating with his management team a number of things,” Pelinka said July 13. “The good news is all the things they’re evaluating as his options have him 100% ready for training camp.”
The meniscus injury was the third issue in Ball’s right knee and the fourth significant injury he has had since the start of his rookie year last fall.
He missed 30 games last season because of a combination of a sprained right medial collateral ligament, a bruised right knee and a sprained shoulder.
In May, Ball had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right knee, which limited the work he could do on the court during that month. That procedure can treat various joint ailments, but apparently did not fully alleviate the problem.
In their exit meeting with Ball, the Lakers asked the 20-year-old point guard to increase his strength to help his durability. Ball told Pelinka and Magic Johnson, the president of basketball operations, that he wanted to play in all 82 games during his second season.
Because of Ball’s injury history and his youth, the Lakers prioritized bringing in another point guard this summer who could start for him if necessary. They signed veteran Rajon Rondo to a one-year deal two weeks before Ball’s surgery and told him he would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job, according to people familiar with those conversations.