Lakers veteran Trevor Ariza has missed the whole season so far as he continues to rehab from offseason ankle surgery, but for the first time this season, he has been upgraded to questionable to play.
The team told reporters that Ariza will likely not play when the Lakers face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, but will be in uniform if they need emergency reinforcements as they continue to deal with ongoing injury issues and a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Lakers say Trevor Ariza, who has not yet played this season, is listed as questionable for tonight in Minnesota. The plan is for him to be in uniform but not play, akin to how the Lakers eased Wayne Ellington into things last month.— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 17, 2021
Ariza was projected as a starter in the preseason, and recently practiced in the G League with the South Bay Lakers as he continues to work his way back towards the lineup. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier this week that Ariza was slated to make his return this week or next week, even before the team’s current injury and illness woes.
Still, even if it comes as the team is simply desperate for players who can both walk and test negative for COVID-19, the medical team even clearing Ariza to be in uniform for emergency situations is a big step in the right direction for the 36-year-old veteran forward this team has continually maintained will be integral to the development of their identity. Whether Ariza plays against the Wolves or not, it really does appear that Lakers fans should expect to see him in the lineup soon, meaning we’re not far away from seeing what this team could really look like when they’re closer to whole.
The Lakers tip off against the Timberwolves on Friday at 7 p.m. PT. It will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet, and nationally on ESPN.
This breaking news story may update as it continues to develop.