The Lakers still have a ways to go before they start getting significant injury reinforcements. Kendrick Nunn won’t even get the bone bruise in his knee reevaluated for another 1-2 weeks, Trevor Ariza still has nearly five weeks before his own reevaluation following training camp ankle surgery, and Talen Horton-Tucker won’t get reevaluated from his own preseason thumb surgery for around two more weeks.
All of those reassessments aren’t even guaranteed to result in an immediate return, either. They may just lead to another timeline being given out by the team.
But in better news, one name that has been on the injury report since training camp could be returning fairly soon, maybe as soon as the Lakers’ next practice. Wayne Ellington has missed the entire regular season so far — as well as their final two preseason games — with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but Vogel said on Friday that Ellington has been “cleared for activity,” and that the team just wants him to participate in a practice before putting him into a game.
“We’d like to get him in a couple of our practices before we throw him into a game. Not sure when that’s going to happen, but I don’t plan on using him tonight,” Vogel said at shootaround before the teams win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
To illustrate Vogel’s point, the team is not practicing on Saturday, and does not have two days between games — usually a necessity for a practice with a veteran team like this — until Dec. 1 and 2. That’s not to say the Lakers won’t practice until then, it’s just also easy to see why Vogel isn’t sure when they’ll squeeze one in.
The Lakers have had Ellington active and dressed for the last three games as an emergency injury reinforcement, however, lending further credence to the idea that he is getting very, very close to a return. And with whispers in the offseason that Ellington was expected to get consideration as the team’s starting shooting guard, he just may play a significant role in the rotation when he does get back, if he hasn’t already lost that chance to some hot starts from Avery Bradley, undrafted rookie Austin Reaves and injury-replacement starter and certified bench microwave Malik Monk.
But either way, Ellington will give this Lakers team one more healthy body, and a hell of a shooter. Even if he’s not in the rotation right away, he does give the Lakers a potentially dynamic option to turn to on a night when other guys don’t have it going. And for a team dealing with these kind of injury issues so early in the year, options are never a bad thing.