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This isn’t a surprise — what’s the point of him returning now to an 18-54 team? — but now it is official:

The Charlotte Hornets have shut LaMelo Ball down for the remainder of the season.

Ball has been out since three days after Thanksgiving when he suffered an ankle injury against the Magic, landing awkwardly after getting a shot up over Paolo Banchero. This is the same right ankle Ball had surgery on near the end of last season.

Ball had been playing some of the best basketball of his career when the injury happened, averaging 25.9 points and 8.6 assists a game while shooting 38.9% from 3. Three of Ball’s four NBA seasons have been cut very short by injuries, and he has played 58 total games over the past two seasons. That has led to some speculation around the league that Charlotte’s new front office — Jeff Peterson is the new head of basketball operations — might test the trade waters for Ball. However, due to Ball’s injury history and the fact he’s on a max contract that kicks in next season, it’s unlikely that teams will line up to pay the price Charlotte would demand for the former All-Star.

Rookie Brandon Miller has emerged this season as a player who will be part of Charlotte’s core going forward. Finding out whether Miller and Ball can mesh on the court (likely under a new coach) would take time, and it may be next training camp before that process really gets rolling.



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