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Lakers

Luke Walton won’t rule out Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram for final two games of season

Lakers coach Luke Walton still isn’t ready to rule out Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram for the final two games of the season.

Ball missed Sunday’s game because of a bruised knee and Ingram was out because of a concussion. Ball has missed the past six games and Ingram the past five.

“They are actively coming in every day and doing their treatments and getting their work in,” Walton said. “Then … decision-wise that’s decisions we’d make together. … If they were cleared we would have to have that talk but they’re not able to play yet so I’m not really worried.”

The Lakers don’t practice Monday and Walton has been hesitant to play players who haven’t first had a full practice. The Lakers face the Rockets on Tuesday and end the season Wednesday against the Clippers.

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If both are cleared, Walton said he’d be more likely to play Ingram than Ball because of the nature of their injuries.

Kyle Kuzma also missed Sunday’s game because of a sprained ankle. Kuzma had been playing on a sprained right ankle since March 13 but couldn’t continue after spraining his left ankle during Friday’s game against the Timberwolves.

Kupchak’s next act

The Charlotte Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak spent 31 years in the Lakers organization, including 17 as general manager. He was fired in February 2017.

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“It’s great,” Walton said. “I loved the time I spent with Mitch as a player and when he brought me down here as a coach. I’m happy he got another opportunity, I’m sure he’ll do a great job over there and wish him the best.”

Julius Randle, Ivica Zubac and Ingram are the only remaining players on the team that were drafted by Kupchak. Kupchak also signed Luol Deng to a four-year deal worth $72 million.

“He was the GM who drafted me, he’s been through a lot as a person, and he’s going back to North Carolina,” Randle said. “So personally I’m happy for him and know he’s going to do a great job over there and wish him the best.”

Rookie dilemma

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell Jr. is in a rookie of the year race with Ben Simmons, who is in his second NBA season but first year playing. Simmons sat out a full year after being drafted while he recovered from foot surgery.

When asked about the advantages a player might have after a redshirt year in the NBA, Jazz coach Quin Snyder deflected.

“Ben Simmons is a terrific player and he’s a rookie and he’s done an unbelievable job,” Snyder said. “It’s astounding what he’s done. I feel the same way about Donovan, what he’s done. Obviously two really deserving candidates.”

tania.ganguli@latimes.com

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Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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