Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Tuesday, according to a team announcement made on Friday afternoon.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the second-year player is still expected to be ready for training camp in late September. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because an official timeline had not yet been announced.
Ball struggled with his left knee throughout his rookie season, and there were reports he sustained a minor meniscus tear that surfaced in late June. After spraining the medial collateral ligament in mid-January, he missed 15 games. Then after playing for more than a month, he missed the final eight games with what was deemed a left knee contusion.
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The 20-year-old will be facing a very different challenge in his second season, as the recent addition of LeBron James changed everything about the Lakers’ competitive landscape. Not long after landing the four-time MVP and three-time champion, the Lakers added veteran point guard Rajon Rondo on a one-year, $9 million deal. Ball, it’s quite clear, will have to fight to keep his starting job.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson took a different tact on Friday, raving about the possible impact that the 32-year-old Rondo might have on Ball in a conference calls with reporters.
“When you think about Lonzo, I told everybody when I took over the job, and then when we drafted him (No. 2 overall out of UCLA), that the one thing that was missing was a mentor,” Johnson said. “We really didn’t have a mentor for him to really teach him and help him how to play the point guard position, and now we have one in Rondo that can really take him through how to read defenses, how to play and defend certain guys in the league at that position, and on and on and on. Just talk basketball to him. So this is really going to be important year for Lonzo, and I think that Rondo will help him out a lot.”
While Ball averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 34.2 minutes in 52 games as a rookie, his shooting remains the most glaring weakness in his game. He shot just 36% overall, 30.5% from three-point range and a woeful 45.1% from the free-throw line.