The German legend will very likely retire at the end of the season. But LeBron James out of the playoff picture?
And it speaks volumes about the problems at the Lakers that it will be the first playoffs without James featuring since 2005.
The Lakers created almost $40 million in salary cap space for the upcoming offseason when they agreed to a buyout with Luol Deng in September, giving them the room needed to offer a maximum contract to a free agent.
The Lakers will also have the space to trade for another max-level player.
The NBA scoring leader equaled his career-high total, which he set earlier this season at Madison Square Garden, and scored more than 50 points for the eighth time this season. But even then, whoever they take likely won't be ready to contribute right away and would be another young prospect adding to this team's already young core. Many pundits believe James chose the wrong LA franchise to sign with last offseason. After a 2-5 start, Lakers president Magic Johnson dressed down coach Luke Walton in a meeting, expressing urgency that the team improve. If the Lakers do move on from him, who will be their head coach moving forward?
Ball sprained his left ankle on January 19 in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets a bone spur in that same joint aggravated the injury that put him on the sidelines for an indefinite period.
The last time the NBA's best player was not in the postseason was in 2004-05, his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Do they keep their pick?
Perhaps the only sliver of good news to come of this season is the fact that the Lakers will likely have a top 10 pick in this year's NBA Draft.
This season's been a disaster and now just eight months after LeBron signed with the Lakers, numerous fans who were so elated that James chose to play for LA this past summer have started to suggest the unthinkable.