When the Lakers added Kendrick Nunn this offseason, there was hope within the fanbase — and probably within the team — that he could be an X-factor. Nunn was hoping so too, even turning down bigger offers in free agency to join the Lakers on the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, making him their only new addition in free agency making more than the veteran’s minimum.
“It wasn’t that hard, to be honest,” Nunn said at the time. “I’m a guy that knows how to sacrifice for the better of the team. I know how to do that and I’m willing to do that. It’s not about myself. It’s a team sport, and I want to win. That’s what I play this game for, to win.”
Suffice to say, this season hasn’t gone as Nunn, the Lakers, or anyone rooting for this team has hoped. Nunn has missed the entire regular season so far with a bone bruise he suffered in the preseason, and while there was recently optimism that he could return on the team’s current road trip, that hope was dashed this week when head coach Frank Vogel announced that Nunn had a setback in his rehab and would have to ramp back down until his knee felt better.
But as unwelcome as that development was for anyone hoping for this team’s success, there is surely no one all this has been more frustrating for than Nunn himself, who took to social media on Thursday to ask Lakers fans not to give up him yet:
Lake Show I promise I want to be out there helping my team. Stay patient with me. This process has been just as frustrating for me. I’ll return as soon as I’m healthy! It’ll be worth the wait— Kendrick Nunn (@nunnbetter_) January 21, 2022
How much Nunn can realistically be counted on to help at this point after (likely) missing upwards of 50 games before making his debut is anyone’s guess, but it’s also important to remember that this is not his fault. Injuries can’t be controlled, and as our own Dr. Rajpal Brar has explained repeatedly in his medical analysis of this situation, bone bruises are uniquely finicky and unpredictable. Nunn isn’t sitting out just for the hell of it. No one is more motivated than him for him to get back out there, as with just two years of NBA experience after going undrafted, he doesn’t have the body of work to necessarily have some big payday coming this summer or next if he misses the whole season. He has a lot left to prove.
We’ll see if he can when (or if) he ultimately returns, or if this ends up just being a mostly lost year by the time he’s healthy enough to play, but it seems like Nunn is bristling at the idea that any of this is his choice. He wants to play. His body just won’t let him right now. As he tweeted, there’s no one that’s more frustrating for than him.