If all goes well between now and Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers will have just two names on the injury report: Rajon Rondo, who is listed as day-to-day with a mild calf sprain, and DeMarcus Cousins, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in August.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be healthy by their next game.
Anthony Davis is still dealing with shoulder soreness from an injury he sustained on Sunday, while Kyle Kuzma will likely be on a minutes restriction in what will be his first game since August. As much as the Lakers surely want to get off to a hot start, head coach Frank Vogel said he’s not willing to push anyone beyond their limits to get it done.
“Everybody on our team we’re trying to manage for the bigger picture,” Vogel said after the Lakers’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. “It’s an 82-game grind, and obviously the playoffs are the most important part. We want everybody fresh going into it, so when you have an injury of whatever severity it may be, you really defer to the medical team, and then they know where we stand. We’re not going to force guys out there unless they’re good to go.”
Arguably nothing backs Vogel’s comments up more than the fact that the Lakers have cancelled practice twice over the last week; once on Monday and again on Wednesday. Vogel understands the importance of getting a brand new collection of players as many reps together as he possibly can, but he also seems to understand that this is a group of veterans that would benefit from having a day or two off during the week.
That might mean the Lakers won’t reach their potential until later in the season, but it could put them in the best position to be healthy when they do. Until then, expect Vogel and the training staff to take the cautious approach with injuries.