Wayne Ellington has missed the entire regular season so far with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, but the veteran guard took the latest step towards his eventual return to the court by getting assigned to the G League for a practice with the South Bay Lakers on Monday.
But while that practice went fine, according to Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, Ellington is still likely to sit out for at least one more game, even if he will (once again) be in uniform as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option for the purple and gold against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
“He practiced with the G League yesterday, everything went well. (He’s) pretty sore today, so we probably won’t play him, but he’ll be in uniform,” Vogel said.
Vogel had previously said that the Lakers wanted to see Ellington “in a couple of our practices” before throwing him into a game, and this type of soreness after his first one back is probably why.
And with guard being the most crowded position on the Lakers anyway — with Avery Bradley, Russell Westbrook and Kent Bazemore all starting, and Austin Reaves, Malik Monk and (sometimes) Rajon Rondo getting minutes off the bench — it’s easy to see why the team doesn’t want to rush Ellington, 33, back onto the court. The team has enough depth to let him get his legs under him slowly without risking a major setback that would sideline him a few more weeks, especially when they’re shooting as well as they have lately anyway, which is the main strength Ellington would bring to the table.
The Lakers and Rockets will tip off on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. PT, and the team will have Wednesday off before getting back on the court for a rematch with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.