It does not appear to be all that likely that anyone will see Charlotte Hornets star point guard LaMelo Ball in a game anytime soon. Ball went down with an injury in Sunday's loss to the Orlando Magic and did not return. The worst was feared at the time, but it appears that a bullet of sorts has been dodged. However, this where the good news comes to an end.
Ball was able to avoid a fracture in his surgically repaired ankle and is currently dealing with what is being described as a serious right ankle sprain. It is believed that this injury could take a long time to heal, and the approach to be taken will be of the cautious variety. This is the right course of action for all parties involved.
For Ball, it is ensuring that his ankle is fully healed. Not only for the obvious reason of making sure that his ankle heals properly but also for Ball to be confident of its structural integrity. If Ball were to become unsure if his ankle is able to hold up to the demands of playing basketball at a professional level, it may prevent him from attempting the types of plays that make him so valuable. Should this situation play out in this manner, it would severely limit the ceiling of his abilities, in addition to the rest of his teammates.
When it comes from the Hornets' perspective, their motivations are similar but from a different perspective. Charlotte wants Ball to be healthy and be the cornerstone of their next competitive era, and in order for that to happen, an overly careful approach is required. However, there is one more factor at play from Charlotte's perspective, financial commitments.
Ball's five-year $205 million extension begins next season, and that is going to be a motivating factor in how this organization determines how aggressive they will be in trying to facilitate his return to action. Considering that this season was already heading in a less-than-encouraging trajectory, it would not be surprising to see Ball's return timeline be pushed out longer than expected at the current moment. It is about the big picture in Charlotte, and unfortunately, winning does not appear to be on the table this season.