On Monday, while Trevor Ariza was talking about his own impending return from the ankle surgery that has kept him out of the lineup all season, he brought up the other player the Lakers have been missing since training camp: Kendrick Nunn, who has been out for about a month with a bone bruise in his knee.
“I bring a completely different element to this team, so hopefully when I am able to participate, and Kendrick is able to come back and play — who gives us another different element to this team — the things that we do, the little things that we do can kind of put our team together,” Ariza said.
But even if Monday provided good news that Ariza is getting closer, and Frank Vogel has previously said the Lakers will have a tough time evaluating how good they can be until both former Heat players return to the lineup, the day also saw the latest indicator that it may be a while before the Lakers can expect Nunn back from a preseason injury that was originally only set to see him wait 2-3 weeks before reevaluation. He has already missed that date with no specific additional timetable being provided beyond Vogel saying he was still “a ways away.”
On the latest episode of “The Lowe Post” podcast, host Zach Lowe and Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin — both as plugged in as NBA reporters come — reported that they’ve heard that Nunn is “not close” to returning from the bone bruise that’s sidelined him the entire season:
McMenamin: “Now, on the Nunn front, I’m told it’s not close, now progressing in the right direction.”
Lowe: “I’ve heard the same, not close.”
McMenamin: “That’s tough blow, you use your mid-level exception in the offseason to get him and you haven’t gotten one minute from him yet. And there’s a feeling within the team that a combination of Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker and Nunn can give them this dynamic playmaker kind of second look that they didn’t have on either of last two season’s teams, but they haven’t been able to put that team into fruition yet.”
It’s fair to question when they’ll be able to see that team come into fruition, if at all. Nunn has missed over a month at this point, and the only specific update we’ve gotten from the team is Frank Vogel saying that the Lakers medical staff “determined that to be safe, given the area in the knee that it was, that he needed to be off it for some time.”
Given how cagey the team has been, that small specific about the area the injury is in being a bad one and that we’ve heard almost nothing suggesting Nunn has even made progress, it all leaves significant doubts about when we can expect to see him, if at all. At the very least, these reports are just the latest sign that it’s nearly time for the Lakers to start considering anything Nunn does eventually give them a bonus, not an expectation.