The Los Angeles Lakers injury situation is reaching the point of ridiculousness. LeBron James is already out with a strained groin and will be probably for another week. Rajon Rondo will be out a few more weeks with a badly sprained finger. Tyson Chandler has not looked healthy in a little while as he deals with back issues. Michael Beasley has not been with the team in weeks as he deals with family issues. JaVale McGee just got back and is probably still recovering from a pneumonia.
Kyle Kuzma is the latest Laker to deal with injuries woes, as an MRI confirmed a contusion (deep bruise) on his back. Bill Oram of The Athletic was the first of many to report the Lakers’ official announcement.
Lakers list Kyle Kuzma as questionable for Friday against New York after MRI confirmed a lower back confusion. He missed second half of Wednesday’s loss to OKC— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 3, 2019
With James, Beasley and now Kuzma potentially out, the Lakers don’t have a natural power forward on their active roster, unless you want to count Moe Wagner — though he can’t seem to get any playing time no matter how dire the rotation might be looking and even then, he’s more of a stretch five than a four.
Brandon Ingram has the length to potentially play some spot minutes if absolutely necessary, but he would be moved pretty easily by any NBA power forward. Josh Hart is physical enough to play the four, so he’ll probably get the starting nod alongside Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ingram and McGee if Kuzma can’t go.
If this is indeed the direction the Lakers go (and it isn’t like they have much choice), Hart will have to play better than he has recently to make up for Kuzma’s scoring and also find some way to stay out of foul trouble. If he isn’t able to do both of those things, it’s hard to see the Lakers competing against just about anyone across the NBA.
As with most injury announcements, it’s a fairly good sign that the Lakers consider Kuzma questionable, but it should be pointed out they’ve always taken an incredibly conservative approach to bringing guys back, especially with younger players.
We’ll see how the Lakers handle this situation Friday as they face the New York Knicks at home. But more importantly than this one game is how desperately they all need to collectively get better. This is getting insane.