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Austin Reaves nearing return with hamstring strain, Trevor Ariza ‘still a ways away’ with foot injury

The Lakers are set to welcome back another key rotation player in Austin Reaves but Trevor Ariza remains not close to a return.

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Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel provided injury updates on a pair of Lakers role players prior to Sunday’s game against the Pistons, one update positive and one update not so much.

Both Austin Reaves and Trevor Ariza were seen doing drills prior to a recent game but they still are on much different timelines, according to Vogel.

“Austin feels really good. If it was up to him, he’d be back already,” Vogel said. “He’s following the medical recommendation for how much time they want to wait for him. And Trevor’s still a ways away. Austin’s a lot closer.”

Reaves was diagnosed with a hamstring strain on Nov. 11 and was set to be re-evaluated in two weeks, a timeline that would put his potential return in the coming week if he’s cleared. Despite being an undrafted free agent, Reaves has quickly established himself as an important piece of this Lakers side.

Ariza, though, has not had the opportunity to prove himself this season. After going down with injury very early in the preseason, Ariza has been sidelined after surgery on his foot and is not expected to return anytime soon.

That has created some problems for the Lakers, who clearly expected Ariza to have a large role on the team. His absence has shown just how important the team expected him to be, which Vogel confirmed on Sunday.

“I have a role carved for what I envision for him,” Vogel said. “His defense and his shooting and his IQ are all things that we value and we view him as a big role player on this team...He’s a big part of this year’s plan. We’ve been without him. We’re making do without him. We’re looking forward to getting him back as soon as possible.”

Ariza underwent his procedure on his foot on Oct. 7 with an eight-week timeline until being re-evaluated. That alone would not have him back until Dec. 2 at the earliest, nearly two weeks away.

Fortunately, Reaves’ return seems far more imminent and could provide them a big boost in the backcourt.

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