To say that the Los Angeles Lakers are bad when Lonzo Ball doesn't play would be an understatement. The Lakers have lost all eight games the rookie point guard has missed during the 2017-18 season, and the average margin of defeat has been 17.0 points.
Well, Ball was ruled out for Friday night's game against the Indiana Pacers with a sore left knee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will join his backcourt mate in street clothes with a right Achilles tendon strain. Brandon Ingram, who has a mild left ankle sprain, is considered a game-time decision, though the forward did not take part in shootaround on Friday morning.
Considering the Pacers are 24-21 and the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference, even a fully healthy Lakers' team would have trouble against the Pacers. Short-handed, the Lakers don't look likely to get their first win without Ball.
Lakers coach Luke Walton said that Ball would need to practice before he returns to playing in games, so returning on Sunday is a possibility if the 20-year-old can get on the practice court on Saturday. On Friday, Ball looked to be in good spirits, as he cheered on fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma in a shooting competition against coaches. Normally, Ball would be on Kuzma's team in the competition, but on this occasion, he stood around wearing branded footwear and enjoying the company of his teammates and coaches.
Lonzo Ball was at shootaround wearing bath slippers...of course, they're BBB bath slippers. I'm sure there's some fancy name for these. Btw, he's out tonight with a sore knee. pic.twitter.com/JKGfDnHSiy— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) January 19, 2018
Along with the aforementioned injuries, Lakers forward Julius Randle revealed that he had suffered a mallet fracture in his right ring finger, but the forward did not seem to be at all concerned about being affected by the injury.
"I'll be fine," the lefty power forward said. "Luckily, it's on my right hand, so it's not a big deal."
Randle, notoriously, is heavily reliant on his left hand.
Lakers Sign Nigel Hayes to 10-Day Contract
The Lakers also announced the signing of forward Nigel Hays on a 10-day contract on Friday, with Hayes at the practice facility and expected to dress for Friday night's game.
"He doesn't know the offense, but we're in a situation where if Brandon doesn't play and guys get in foul trouble or something else happens health-wise, we need him," Walton said about Hayes on Friday. "He's had a really solid year in the G-League so far. He's shooting the lights out. He versatile, can guard multiple positions."
Hayes is not entirely an unfamiliar face, as the Lakers interviewed the kid during draft workouts and Randle
"Nigel was in my class in high school, so I played him my whole life growing up," Randle said on Friday. "I know him pretty well, so I'm definitely excited about that."
Walton said he asked the newest addition to introduce himself to the team like a kid at summer camp, and Hayes seemed optimistic about his stay in LA. The former Wisconsin Badger mentioned that his team was 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament at Staples Center, so the 23-year-old hoped to improve that personal record to 3-0 on Friday night.
Back in those tournament days, Hayes made headlines by getting giddy about sitting at Kobe Bryant's locker. On Friday, Hayes went so far as to say the reason his team went 2-0 was because he had Bryant's locker and went further to share another story about meeting the Lakers' legend in Milwaukee.
"I told him, 'Kobe, I love you. I really do, and I'm working hard to be half as good as you,'" Hayes shared his interaction with the Lakers' legend. "All he said was, 'Keep working and you will.' Simple, but a lot of people skip over that working part."
Hayes added, "It's the little things that people skip over and don't want to do that make the big difference."