Charlotte Hornets: How LaMelo Ball’s injury affects the rest of the season

During the second quarter of the Charlotte Hornets‘ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, rookie sensation LaMelo Ball took a fall that changed the course of his and the team’s season.

The fall occurred during the second quarter; Ball played in the second half but left the game during the fourth quarter. The Hornets said that Ball had an MRI on Sunday in San Antonio revealing a broken bone in his right wrist. Ball is seeking a second opinion. Should the second opinion confirm the diagnosis, Ball would likely miss the remainder of the season.

Ball is a major reason behind the Hornets’ success this season and why they are in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season. In 41 games this season, Ball averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He connected on 45.1% of his field goals and 37.5% of his three-point attempts.

With Ball out for the remainder of the season, this could change plans to upgrade talent ahead of this week’s trade deadline.

Last week, it was reported by the Athletic’s Sam Amick that teams believed that Devonte’ Graham was available in trade talks. With the injury to Ball, the Hornets are less likely to move Graham in a trade. Most likely the plan would now be to reinsert Graham into the starting lineup and ride it out with him for the remainder of the season.

The Hornets are a less talented team without Ball in the lineup, but still have enough talent on the team to finish in the top-10 in the East, clinching an opportunity to participate in the play-in tournament which will determine the seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The Hornets could still swing a deal at the trade deadline for a center, but using Graham as a trade chip is certainly off of the table. Now, the Hornets have another pressing need at backup point guard.

Malik Monk and Terry Rozier could more time handling the ball with Ball out, but the Hornets should be wary of relying more on Cody Martin and Caleb Martin as they did last season if they want to make a push for the playoffs. With an open roster spot and a little over $4 million in salary cap available, Charlotte would be smart to look into bringing in a veteran point guard.