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Lonzo Ball to travel with Lakers but might not play

Lonzo Ball to travel with Lakers but might not play
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is still nursing a knee injury. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Lonzo Ball will travel with the Lakers on their trip that begins Thursday, but it’s possible he doesn’t play at all during that trip.

Ball suffered a knee sprain in Dallas on January 13. He began some light jogging on a treadmill Saturday while the Lakers went through their shootaround.

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“He did more yesterday than the day before and he says he feels good today but he is still out. … I get the call from the training staff telling me whether he will be ready to practice or not or play which obviously is not the case yet so … I don’t expect him back [soon],” coach Luke Walton said. “I haven’t seen him on the court doing anything but they’re looking at it, still just taking it day by day to see when the knee is feeling better.”

Walton wants Ball to go through a practice before he will be able to play in a game. But before he can practice, he must successfully go through on-court agility drills to determine whether his knee is ready.

Ball does not have a history of ligament damage in his knee, but the Lakers have no plans to rush him back from this injury.

Injuries have hampered Ball more than once since he began NBA play. His latest comes on the heels of a shoulder sprain he suffered Dec. 23.

“I think as players grow, especially when they’re players [who] come in young, part of it is growing into your body,” Walton said. “You become stronger, and as you become stronger I think you become more durable.”

Half-court magic

Paul George might be Palmdale’s favorite son, but another man thinks he’s making a case for himself.

Suni Strong, a Palmdale native, made a half-court shot between the third and fourth quarters of the Lakers’ Sunday afternoon game against the New York Knicks.

“All my friends, I told them I was shooting the shot,” Strong said.

Then he laughed.

“This is crazy,” he said, still laughing. “I’m a hometown hero now. It was Paul George but I’m going to be right there.”

Strong won $100,000 by making the shot, which isn’t actually the biggest payday he’s had, he said. When he isn’t building rockets for SpaceX, he’s a bounty hunter, finding people who skipped bail for a fee. That fee can sometimes exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars, Strong said.

Strong was selected to take the shot as he walked into the arena for the game. His brother was supposed to be there with him, but was feeling under the weather so Strong brought his nephew instead.

He hadn’t practiced a half-court shot in a while — though he did it regularly while playing at Highland High in Palmdale — but was sure it would go in. After he made it, he pointed at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who missed Sunday’s game with an Achilles tendon injury.

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“I told them I should’ve been a Laker,” Strong said. “I told KCP.”

Julius Randle gave him a fist-bump.

After the game, Walton was asked if he’d consider signing Strong to a 10-day contract.

“We are looking for shooting so yeah, not a bad idea. … He’s a bounty hunter? This guy gets better and better each time,” Walton said.

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