Despite the fact that their season unofficially ended on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to play a basketball game against the Denver Nuggets for the third and final time this season on Wednesday at Staples Center. Strange, I know.
The only problem with that (beyond the obvious) is that the Lakers’ active roster looks like half of the team started their offseason a little early.
Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma will not suit up for the Lakers on Wednesday, as they’re both nursing ankle sprains. Ball will be re-evaluated on Thursday, while Kuzma could miss up to a week. Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness) has also been ruled out, according to Kyle Goon of the OC Register.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram (shoulder soreness) and Lance Stephenson (toe sprain) are questionable to play. Neither of them played against the LA Clippers on Monday.
The Lakers have (sort of) managed to look like a competent basketball team without Ball in the starting lineup, but they haven’t had to play without all three of Ball, Kuzma and Ingram this season. With more than half of their regular starters out, who will head coach Luke Walton put on the floor?
Well, LeBron James is healthy, and he’s started every game he’s been healthy for this season, so one could safely assume he starts again. James will likely be joined by Rajon Rondo, Reggie Bullock and JaVale McGee, who were in the starting lineup on Monday. Beyond those four, the roster is wide open.
Outside of Kuzma, the Lakers don’t have a traditional power forward on their roster, so James will likely move over to the power forward position with one of their wings — either Josh Hart of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — moving into the starting lineup. Walton could also mix things up by throwing G League call up Johnathan Williams in the starting lineup. Williams has appeared in seven games for the Lakers this season.
Truthfully, though, it might not matter.
The Nuggets currently have the second-best record in the Western Conference and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, so they’ll come into Staples Center hungry for a win that would get them the regular season series win over Los Angeles. Remember, this is the same team that blew the Lakers out by 32 points when all five of their starters were healthy.
“American Idol” is on tonight at 8 p.m. PST, as is the season finale of “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell & Back.” I haven’t watched the latter, but I imagine it’s better than whatever the Lakers are going to cook up on Wednesday night.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. PST on ES — oh, no this game’s going to be ON NATIONAL TELEVISION?