‘LaMelo Ball could possibly return this season,’ says Charlotte Hornets GM

CHARLOTTE, NC- APRIL 10: The Charlotte Hornets introduce Mitch Kupchak as President of Basketball Operations & General Manager during a press conference in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 10, 2018 at the Spectrum Center. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA 2021: The Charlotte Hornets made it clear that they will not rush the LaMelo Ball back until he is healthy.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak says he’s not ruling out LaMelo Ball returning this season.

Kupchak says the rookie point guard will be re-evaluated in “four or five weeks” after fracturing his right wrist on March 20.

If Ball is reevaluated in five weeks on April 27 the Hornets would have about three weeks remaining before the end of the regular season on May 16. Charlotte is in the hunt for a playoff spot, so its season could stretch into late May and beyond.

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Kupchak confirmed that the Hornets initially thought Ball’s injury was season-ending, but an MRI later revealed more details and created some optimism about a possible earlier return.

Hornets GM: LaMelo Ball could possibly return this season

LaMelo Ball Injury: What (the surgery) doesn’t do is preclude him from coming back this season,” Kupchak said.

Nothing is definitive at this point, and for now, the Hornets say they will remain patient. What is largely unclear is how quickly the wrist will heal and how long it would take for the No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft to return to basketball shape.

We have to wait,” Kupchak said. “He’s casted. We’ll wait until five weeks. And we’ll evaluate where we are as a team at that time.

Kupchak made it clear the Hornets aren’t going to rush him back if he’s not ready.

What we’re not going to do is put his health in jeopardy,” Kupchak said.

LaMelo Ball Injury: Prior to the injury Ball was considered a frontrunner to win NBA rookie of the year honors.

LaMelo Ball Stats:

He is averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.59 steals. He stepped up his production after entering the starting lineup on Feb. 1 following an injury to Devonte Graham, averaging 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in 21 starts.

The Hornets (22-21) are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings entering Friday’s night game against the Miami Heat.

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