The Lakers have seen their wing and guard rotation take injury hit after injury hit since the start of training camp, with Kendrick Nunn the latest player to go down when he was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his knee.
The team said Nunn would be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks, but in the meantime, it’s another blow to what was once a crowded backcourt. While that makes playing time decisions a little easier for head coach Frank Vogel, he’d rather have the good problem of trying to find minutes for everyone.
“Kendrick is a hell of a player. We did have him penciled in as a rotational guy before camp started,” Vogel told reporters recently. “He can really score the ball, he can play off the ball (and) I love the idea of him playing off of Russ and LeBron and what he’s going to be able to do on the second side. So it’s a big loss for us.”
It’s also left the Lakers without a bit more shot creation and dynamism, and as alluded to above, it’s not the only loss the team has faced so far.
“So is Talen (Horton-Tucker), so is Trevor (Ariza), we had those guys penciled in as rotation guys, too. So the good thing is that we have plenty of guys that I trust on this team,” Vogel said. “Guys I believe in and I feel like are going to do a good job for sure.”
Some of those guys have been Malik Monk and undrafted rookie Austin Reaves, both of whom have used the void left by Nunn and Horton-Tucker — the team’s two highest-paid players not named LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook — to show off their own shot-creating and shot-making skills, and to make cases for permanent spots in the rotation.
But as well as those two have played, the Lakers would surely at the very least rather have Nunn healthy and available so they can look at all of their options at guard. They may be able to survive this loss for now, but to be as good as they can be, they’re going to need Nunn, Horton-Tucker, Ariza and Wayne Ellington healthy and ready to play so they can see who fits best alongside their star trio when it matters most. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to wait a few weeks (and months, in some cases) for a clearer picture.