The Los Angeles Lakers got some good injury news on Thursday, when Anthony Davis said his groin was feeling “good” just two weeks after their elimination from the NBA playoffs in the first round. However, positive news like that was all too rare this season, and as a result, the Lakers will reportedly part ways with head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN broke the news on Saturday morning:
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the market to hire a new head athletic trainer after injuries ravaged their 2020-21 season.
Nina Hsieh, promoted to head trainer two years ago, did not have her contract renewed, sources told ESPN.
Hsieh’s name has already been removed from the team’s website.
This is a somewhat unsurprising outcome, given the sheer level of injuries the Lakers dealt with this season. The Lakers lost 163 total regular season games to injury and/or illness, and no player on he team participated in all 72 games, with only six (Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dennis Schröder and Markieff Morris) playing in more than 60.
And while not all of this falls on the training staff — LeBron James’ injury occurred when Solomon Hill dove under him for a loose ball, after all — but James missing 27 games and Davis being out for 36 (half the season) likely contributed to the Lakers deciding to go in a different direction, to say nothing of their playoff injury woes. That noted, this was a difficult season for every training staff in the league:
NEWS: Data suggests that injuries (especially soft-tissue injuries) soared in the 2020-21 NBA season, and team health officials/execs say the carry-over effects will drive how player health is managed next season, too. Story with the great @kpelton: https://t.co/1iF4ok79Sh— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) June 8, 2021
With Hsieh gone, the Lakers training staff still consists of director of sports performance Judy Seto (Kobe Bryant’s longtime trainer), athletic trainer and athletic performance liaison Mike Mancias (LeBron James’ longtime trainer), assistant athletic trainer and athletic performance liaison Jon Ishop (who Anthony Davis has shouted out as his trainer), assistant athletic trainer Octavio Marquez, assistant strength and conditioning coach Ed Streit and massage therapist Stacey Robinson.
Those first two names would certainly seem to be bulletproof, but according to the ominous final line of McMenamin’s story, no one’s job should be considered completely safe as the Lakers evaluate how their training staff will look next season:
More changes are expected as the team is in the process of restructuring its approach to player health, sources told ESPN.
We’ll see exactly what that will look like in the weeks to come, but head strength and conditioning coach Chattin Hill’s name has also been removed from the team’s official website.