On Friday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers upgraded Lonzo Ball's status from "questionable" to "probable," a decision that was announced as Ball energetically shot up three-pointers and joyfully played a friendly game with teammates and coaches.
"[Ball] said he feels good," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on Friday morning. "If we stay on schedule, he should play tonight."
Asked about whether Ball was 100 percent, Walton added, "He's definitely going to play without being 100 percent. I think that's true with everyone that comes back from injury. I think that's true for everyone that plays and doesn't have injuries. There's not a single guy on our team that's at 100 percent this far into the season."
"It's a little sore," Ball admitted but added that he was "happy to be back."
Asked if he felt any pressure to help the Lakers turn around their current funk of eight straight losses and 10 defeats in their last 11 games, Ball responded sharply, "Pressure's been on me since I've been here."
Walton Not Worried About Job
Losing eight straight and 11 of the past 12 games overall is not easy and can call into question a coach's job, regardless of the circumstances. Walton, though, isn't interested in hearing noise.
Asked about whether the current losing run had him possibly thinking about his job being in jeopardy, Walton said, "No, I don't. I coach as if it's not. As I preach to my players, 'control what you can control in life.' That's got to be my philosophy as a coach, as well."
Walton regularly speaks with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the two men who ultimately decide on whether he is the man to coach the team. Numerous times, Walton has lauded the open communication he shares with both men.
"They’ve been great," Walton said about the Lakers' front office. "They’ve been supportive. They obviously understand where we’re at as a team and what we’re trying to do and what our big picture is. When you’ve got a young team that’s battling, fighting and playing well and gets some injuries and you get into the dog days of the NBA season. They’re both fully aware of what that’s like."
Adding to Walton's confidence in his job security, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss even recently took to social media to give her team's coach a vote of confidence via Twitter. On the platform, Buss wrote, "Luke Walton: 'We will get through this and we will be stronger when we do.' #Lakers Family #InLukeWeTrust."
"She’s been incredible," Walton said of Buss' public and private support. "I’ve talked with her a lot during the season. I like to give her updates. She’s been around this game a long time, so she knows when to be supportive. She’s been really great to work with."