LaMelo Ball’s broken wrist is healed, a major step to him playing again for Hornets

LaMelo Ball’s broken wrist is healed, a major step to him playing again for Hornets
LaMelo Ball’s broken wrist is healed, a major step to him playing again for Hornets (Source: The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball’s fractured right wrist has healed and he’s been cleared to start individual basketball activity.

When Ball might play again this season is yet to be determined.

Ball’s cast was removed and a CT scan confirmed the wrist has healed. He has been cleared to return to individual basketball activity, the team announced Monday night.

Ball was examined in New York by Dr. Michelle Carlson, who did his surgery last month.

Ball, who was having the top season in his rookie class, suffered a right wrist fracture in a hard fall during the March 20 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

He had surgery March 23 at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, performed by Dr. Michelle Carlson. After surgery, the Hornets said Ball’s injury would be re-evaluated in about four weeks.

Initially, there was concern Ball would be out for the remainder of the season. However, Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said a few days following Ball’s surgery that there’s hope Ball would recover in time for the playoffs or even a portion of the remaining regular season.

“We don’t know if LaMelo is out for the season or not,” Kupchak said on March 26. “There is a possibility (of Ball playing again), just based on other players who have had this injury, that maybe he does come back for some portion of the year.”

Kupchak added that the Hornets would do nothing that might risk Ball long-term, by clearing him to play.

“If we get to the end of the (regular season), and we’re in a playoff hunt, and he’s not quite ready — (where) we feel we could get him back on the court and push it — we won’t do that,” Kupchak said.

LAMELO BALL’S SPECTACULAR FIRST 3 NBA MONTHS

Ball had a spectacular start to his NBA career, winning the first three Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards. He averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds in the 41 games he played before the injury.

Ball appeared to be cruising to winning rookie of the year, and still looks like the front-runner, based on an Observer survey of 12 media members likely to have votes for that award. Nine of those 12 media members said two weeks ago they would vote Ball No. 1.

Hornets coach James Borrego said Ball should win Rookie of the Year, regardless of whether he plays anymore this season, based on his impact on the Hornets’ record.

“He has clearly impacted winning, more so than I even expected,” Borrego said. “He put us in position to be a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference.

“When you can impact winning and put up those numbers, you are clearly Rookie of the Year.”

A CASCADE OF HORNETS INJURIES

Ball’s fractured wrist was the first of a cascade of injuries to key Charlotte players. The Hornets lost small forward Gordon Hayward (right foot strain) and shooting guard Malik Monk (right ankle sprain) for weeks, and still don’t have those players back. Monk figures to be back soonest of those three, but is not close to returning.

Center-forward P.J. Washington (ankle sprain) and guards Terry Rozier (knee tendinitis) and Devonte Graham (quad contusion) have all missed recent games. Washington and Rozier are back, while Graham is listed as questionable to play Tuesday in New York against the Knicks.

The Hornets have gone 8-7, entering the Knicks game, since Ball’s injury. A recent four-game losing streak dropped the 28-28 Hornets from fourth in the Eastern Conference standings to eighth, as they pursue their first playoff appearance in five seasons.

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