Lonzo Ball was back after missing the Los Angeles Lakers’ last 15 games due to an MCL sprain suffered in a game against the Dallas Mavericks last month. Coincidentally, he returned to play also against the Mavs last Friday, playing rusty as he came off the bench to score nine points on 3-for-8 shooting but had seven rebounds and six assists.
The injury made him miss the chance to play in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge during the All-Star break, but the 20-year-old point guard has remained arguably one of the most popular players in the league today in terms of media exposure.
Despite his notoriety, which some analysts believe was hyped by his more notorious father, LaVar, there are rumors that Ball has become the team’s top trade asset heading into what some analysts think is a crucial offseason for the Lakers.
Speculations abound right now that the Hollywood squad might trade for an elite player this summer even before free-agency begins in order to attract Paul George, and possibly LeBron James, to come join the team. Ball’s name has been continuously mentioned in trade rumors as of late, and the latest one is a potential deal with the San Antonio Spurs for superstar Kawhi Leonard, who is rumored to be disgruntled.
In a recent Lakers Nation podcast, host Trevor Lane and reporter Hannah Kulik discussed a potential Lakers-Spurs trade centered on the former NBA Finals MVP, who is reportedly unhappy about his current status in San Antonio.
Lakers Podcast: Kawhi Leonard Trade Scenarios, Julius Randle's Free Agency, & More - Lakers Nation https://t.co/7IEKX6Dl3R— Laker update (@Lakerupdate) February 26, 2018
Lane said that he worries the Lakers could repeat the Paul George-scenario all over again if they let the opportunity to trade for Leonard pass by this summer.
Last season, the Lakers reportedly had the chance to trade for George while he was still with the Pacers, but L.A. thought that Indiana’s asking price was too high for the Palmdale native. The club then decided to wait until he became a free agent, but as it turned out, the Pacers ended up trading George to the Thunder last summer.
Meanwhile, Kulik said that she would suggest trading Ball, plus multiple future draft picks, to the Spurs for Leonard. She said that Lonzo’s injury history might become a problem for the Lakers in the future.
“I’m a little concerned he just can’t remain healthy. Especially to be so young in his career, and what you saw… Summer League he was injured, preseason he was injured, this whole season he has been struggling playing with injuries.”
Ball has only played 37 games so far this season due to various injuries, including a left shoulder sprain and the aforementioned MCL sprain.
Kulik also cited Lonzo’s off-court “baggage,” presumably referring to his father LaVar, who had been publicly stating negative comments about the Lakers, in particular against head coach Luke Walton, as another reason the Lakers might decide to let him go.
The reporter said that while it is “not necessarily Lonzo’s fault” and that “it does not say he is not a good player,” but those distractions may hinder the club’s goal to sign big-name free agents in the future.