Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that veteran forward Trevor Ariza would miss at least the next two months following an “arthroscopic debridement” of the ailing right ankle that had sidelined him for the entire preseason aside from the team’s first practice. It’s a big loss for a team that was short on wing-sized forwards, and according to head coach Frank Vogel, Ariza really tried to avoid being sidelined for so long.
“Trevor did everything he could to make it through the injury without missing any time or without any procedure,” Vogel said on Friday. “Ultimately it was just making sure that we got it cleaned up, and hopefully we’ll get him back as soon as we can.”
Vogel clarified that the 36-year-old forward was already dealing with this issue before training camp began, and did not get injured in the first practice, as many had previously assumed, given the timeline. Vogel said Ariza didn’t even do the contact portion of the team’s first session of training camp, but that even that was too much.
“He did all the running and non-contact drills, and it (the ankle) just wasn’t where it needed to be,” Vogel said. “They went through a further evaluation and decided that this was the best course of action.”
Still, he says this wasn’t something the team was concerned about prior to camp.
“Before training camp we hadn’t really talked about this. We were hopeful that it wasn’t gonna come to this,” Vogel said. “Then as training camp began and they went through the further evaluation, that’s when we decided that this was the best course of action.”
Ariza’s absence will leave the Lakers short on wing-sized players in the meantime, but Vogel replied “not necessarily” to questions about both if the team would need to sign someone else to their open 15th roster spot in the meantime to replace Ariza, and if they would need to play bigger now that he’s out for the foreseeable future. As usual, he’s playing things close to the vest.
“We’ll see. We’re going to use all six games of the preseason to evaluate and we’ll make a decision at that point,” Vogel said.
Those (valid) questions aside, Ariza’s teammates LeBron James was more concerned with wishing Ariza well than immediately answering any questions about where his prolonged absence will leave the team.
“Obviously, anytime you’re dealing with surgery you wish for the best,” James said. “But we believe in our doctors. Everything that’s been said is that he can come back at full strength. 6-8 weeks may feel long for him, but we welcome him coming back 100%. Can’t wait to get him on the floor with us.”
Until he does, however, this team will have some on-court and rotational questions to figure out, and not much time before their season-opener in less than two weeks to do so.