LAS VEGAS — Lonzo Ball left Sunday night’s game against Dallas with tightness in his right calf and did not return.
The Lakers promising rookie suffered the injury in the third quarter and departed with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter of the Las Vegas summer league semifinals. The team said he was available to play if needed but the Lakers were cautious with their No. 2 overall pick.
With Magic Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka and coach Luke Walton watching on, Ball was having his best shooting night of the summer league, draining five-of-seven shots, including two-of-three 3-pointers, for 16 points. He also dished out 10 assists, all by halftime, to go with four rebounds, in a showdown against Dallas rookie Dennis Smith Jr.
Ball has created a stir here with his choice of shoes for each game from Big Baller Brand to Nike to Adidas and Under Armour. But he has impressed several executives and coaches around the league as one of the best performers at summer league, racking up two triple-doubles while coming close to a couple other triple-doubles, including a 36-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound performance against the Sixers.
Lonzo Ball’s father said the Lakers rookie is wearing different brands of footwear during summer league play as a “statement to the brands,” adding that the No. 2 draft pick would be open to inking a shoe deal “if the price is right.”
Kevin Pelton addresses reader questions, including which players are worth the supermax.
After Ball suffered the injury, he went back to the locker room briefly before returning to the bench. Before the start of the fourth, Ball again went to the locker room again before returning to the bench to watch the Lakers.
Prior to the injury, Ball was shooting as well as he had all summer league from the perimeter. He knocked down his first two 3-point attempts and he continued to thrill the pro-Lakers crowd and even Johnson with his passing.
On one play in the first half, Ball chased down a loose ball toward halfcourt and just before a Dallas defender could get there, Ball punched the ball forward down court right to teammate Alex Caruso for a dunk.
On another play, Ball took an outlet pass and in one motion, fired a pass downcourt just over the outstretched arms of a Dallas defender and to teammate Kyle Kuzma, who drove in for a dunk. Johnson stood up and applauded.
In the Lakers’ summer league opener, the Lakers’ second overall pick from the year before, Brandon Ingram, scored 26 points but suffered a cramp at the end of regulation and was held out of the remainder of summer league after that. The Lakers have seen enough from Ball and could likely play it safe with their prized rookie as well.
“We are in a league right now that is kind of dominated by scoring point guards,” Pelinka said before Ball suffered the calf injury. “And there’s some great ones, don’t get me wrong. But to kind of have this young kid come along, 19-years-old, he is really changing the way point guards play with pass-first, getting your teammates going first, it is amazing to watch. We feel like the way he’s playing can really transform our whole team.”