EL SEGUNDO — Sitting on the sidelines in shower shoes and a crisp white Big Baller Brand hoodie, Lonzo Ball watched as another day of Lakers basketball rolled on without him.
The prized rookie continues to sit out with a sprained ankle that was initially labeled as mild, but has proven to be anything but.
Enlisted as the new face of a team whose offensive philosophy was constructed around him, Ball has been limited to light drills since suffering the injury on Oct. 2.
The highly anticipated start to Ball’s Lakers career has sputtered out of the gates. He has missed three consecutive preseason games and is listed as questionable for Friday’s exhibition finale against the Clippers.
Coach Luke Walton said he was hoping Ball could play, but did not sound especially confident it would happen.
“Do I plan on him playing?” Walton said. “No. We’re going about coaching this with the guys that we know are available.”
Ball worked out prior to Tuesday’s loss to Utah with assistant coach Miles Simon, and did so again before practice on Wednesday, Walton said. The Lakers would like to see him complete a practice before playing in a game, but that could be either Thursday or in an extended shootaround Friday.
On Wednesday, Walton acknowledged the injury has proven trickier than he initially expected.
“I didn’t think he would miss the whole preseason,” Walton said, “but you try not to really think like that. They’re injuries, you can’t and you don’t want to rush players back.”
Under ordinary circumstances, it might seem a silly degree of concern for an ankle sprain. But Ball is no ordinary rookie. On the night of the injury, Walton stressed the need to keep Ball on the floor to ensure the Lakers could continue to grow around him.
Without Ball, the Lakers have continued to put in more elements of their offense, putting pressure on Ball to learn more from the sidelines.
“We’re still working on just getting familiar with the different reads,…