The Los Angeles Lakers announced this morning that reserve big man Wenyen Gabriel has been downgraded to out of their matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight with the left shoulder sprain he sustained against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. The team told beat reporters he would be re-evaluated in one week.
Gabriel had previously been listed as questionable on the injury report for Tuesday.
That one-week re-evaluation timeline will cost Gabriel the final four games of the team’s current road trip: at the Cavaliers tonight, at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, at the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday and at the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. It would, however, seemingly give Gabriel a chance to return exactly a week from today, when the Lakers host their arch-rival Boston Celtics at home next Tuesday, Dec. 13.
This is an unexpectedly tough loss for the Lakers, as Gabriel had been playing so well this year that he went from seemingly just a roster filler on a nonguaranteed contract to arguably their second-best center behind Anthony Davis, averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds on 59.7% shooting (all improvements on his career averages) in 13.6 minutes, mostly off of the bench. Among players to play more than 150 minutes so far, Gabriel has the third-best net rating on the team (+2.2) behind only Davis (+2.8) and Austin Reaves (+2.7), per NBA.com.
With Gabriel out, expect a minutes boost for Thomas Bryant, as well as the potential return of previously mothballed reserve center Damian Jones. The Lakers and Cavaliers tip off at 4:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, with the game televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet and nationally on TNT.
This breaking news story may update with more information as it continues to develop. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.