On the penultimate day before the start of the regular season, the Lakers took to the practice court for one of the final times this preseason on Sunday. After going winless in six exhibition games, the Lakers are still searching for their first win of the new season as they host Golden State on Tuesday.
However, some good news could mean the team may be returning to full strength for that contest. Here’s the notable news from Sunday’s practice.
Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk return to court
After being hit with a slew of injuries seemingly at once this preseason, the Lakers had some good injury news on Sunday as both guards Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk took part in practice, though Wayne Ellington remained out.
“We still don’t know how they’re going to be listed (on Tueday) but Kendrick did participate in practice along with Malik and Wayne did not,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “Obviously, we’ll see how Kendrick responds to the work today before we decide his availability (as well as) Malik.”
Monk’s original timetable for return slated him to be re-evaluated over the weekend with the possibility of him being available for Tuesday. Nunn, meanwhile, did not have as definitive a timetable for his return.
As for Ellington, his return will be much closer to Tuesday’s game and his availability will be much more in question. Having both Nunn and Monk on the court on Sunday, though, are big positives for the Lakers.
Carmelo Anthony is stubbornly optimistic
While all of the Lakers have been preaching patience mixed with optimism, no one has been more feverant in that optimism than Carmelo Anthony. The veteran forward has not shown the slightest sense of worry about the Lakers despite their slow and sometimes disappointing preseason.
“I think we’ll be ready,” Anthony said of Tuesday’s game. “I think we’ll be ready Tuesday. I know we’ll be ready. You can feel it, I’d say you can hear it but you hear a lot of things. But we’ll be ready Tuesday.
“Me personally, I felt like that throughout the whole preseason. I just know the type of group that we have, the caliber of guys that we have, the mindset of the guys on this team. Like I said, we’ll be ready Tuesday. I don’t think we won’t be ready Tuesday. Now, will it all come together on Tuesday? Probably not. But we’ll be ready to play.”
For Vogel, the preseason has been a mix of implementing a new offense, integrating players into his defense and doing it all with a roster full of veterans who had a more deliberate approach to the preseason.
“It’s tough to get 15-plus year vets to be completely serious about the preseason,” Vogel said. “I shouldn’t say serious. I think guys were competing but there was definitely a preseason carelessness to some of our passes that, hopefully, goes away and just something that we wanted to get on top of as early as we can. We talked about that but there’s been other points along the way, other elements of our system: running back in transition consistently, not complaining to the ref during live-ball turnovers, all the defensive coverages...it’s just part of coaching a team.
“We’ve been pushing them to be really good in all those areas and, hopefully, the preseason was good for us even if the win-loss record wasn’t.”
At the end of the day, actions will speak louder than words and with their actions this preseason, the Lakers have set up a scenario where a slow start to the regular season opens them up to much criticism, fair or foul.
LeBron James and Austin Reaves, the new dynamic duo
Austin Reaves has grabbed the attention of everyone around the Lakers, from fans to coaches to teammates with none more prominent than LeBron James. At the end of practice on Sunday, James was the one who pulled Reaves away from studying plays to shoot with him to end the day.
Lakers rookie Austin Reaves was going over some plays on a clipboard with a Lakers assistant after practice and LeBron called him onto the court to join him in getting up more shots. pic.twitter.com/30Vb7zYhcj— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 17, 2021
Does James shooting alongside Reaves signal who he really believes is the guard the Lakers should build their offense around?
But it’s been incredible to watch Reaves who, not even three months ago, went undrafted and is now a solidified member of the Lakers.
The Lakers will practice once more on Monday before Tuesday’s regular season opener at the Staples Center against the Warriors.