Over the last week, there have been more and more indications that Kendrick Nunn is getting closer and closer to making his regular season debut for the Lakers after missing the entire season so far with a bone bruise in his right knee.
For one thing, head coach Frank Vogel literally said on Monday that Nunn was “getting closer” to making his return to the floor, and followed that up on Tuesday by saying that Nunn would be getting “a ton of minutes” to get acclimated when he does return.
For a player that the team had previously ruled out for all of 2021 and only continuously said was “a ways away,” hearing Vogel’s increasingly optimistic tone and seeing that Nunn has begun shooting publicly during the team’s pregame workouts felt like a notable departure — and forward progress for a player who has been reportedly targeting a January return.
The video we’ve all been waiting for, Kendrick Nunn’s pregame on-court work pic.twitter.com/VMcOefdCjH— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) January 5, 2022
Prior to Friday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, Vogel gave the latest update on the combo guard, and detailed the work Nunn has been doing on his own as he prepares to make his season debut in purple and gold.
“Kendrick has been getting on the floor. I’m not sure if it’s every day, but about 20 to 30 minutes of individual work,” Vogel said. “Just trying to get his movements back and begin his ramp-up.”
A few hours prior that, our own Aaron Larsuel reported on this week’s episode of “The Hook” that he was hearing that Nunn “should be back in a week and a half or so,” and in conjunction with Vogel’s latest comments about Nunn starting to ramp-up, it made LeBron James’ prediction about when Nunn will return after Friday’s game feel even more notable.
James, asked about what has led to the team looking better lately, had the following to say (emphasis mine):
“We’re just getting our guys back. It’s literally that simple. You guys have asked me plenty of times when we’re losing games or whatever, ‘can we judge this team?’ I told you guys over and over that we can’t. We don’t know what we have. Now we’re starting to see what we have because guys are in the lineup. Soon we get K Nunn as well, and not too far after that, AD returns. So when you have a team that’s built on depth and chemistry out on the floor, and you don’t have your depth or your chemistry because guys are out, it’s hard to gauge them. And as of late we’ve had both of those.”
Given that Davis was originally given a four-week timetable before re-evaluation with his MCL sprain — leaving him just a week away from getting an update on Jan. 15 — James predicting that Nunn would be back before Davis feels really, really noteworthy.
Put it all together, and while it may not be completely clear when the Lakers will be getting their fifth-highest-paid player back in the lineup, signs are mounting that Nunn’s return really is more imminent than ever, potentially even coming within the next few games.