Any expectation of Kendrick Nunn having a return from his bone bruise in the near future and effectively being a trade deadline acquisition has been firmly shot down in recent days. After head coach Frank Vogel said the team was not expecting Nunn back until at least March, general manager Rob Pelinka further dampened the mood on Thursday.
Following the trade deadline, Pelinka spoke on a conference call with select Lakers beat writers and gave an update on Nunn’s timeline.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka says Kendrick Nunn is slated to return for the Lakers late in March.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 10, 2022
In short, oof.
The news just continues to get worse and worse throughout the season for Nunn. A setback in the middle of the campaign wasn’t treated as anything major at the time, but it’s increasingly looking like that mid-January speed bump was something much closer to a mountain in the middle of the road to recovery.
A seemingly hopeful late March return is also putting his entire season in serious doubt. The Lakers final regular season game is on Sunday, April 10. Needless to say, with another setback, Nunn’s season is almost certainly over, and without one, he’s going to be up against the wall for even getting a chance to find his rhythm and contribute.
The reality is, if Nunn returns this year, it’ll be after four months on the sideline this season. And given that it’s a leg injury, it’s near impossible that his level of conditioning has stayed up, along with a number of other factors that will contribute to general rustiness on the court.
How much will the Lakers be able to afford to let Nunn re-integrate into the lineup late in the season with a playoff or play-in spot potentially on the line? And even if the team makes a playoffs, how much can Nunn be expected to contribute at this point?
Barring a dramatic development late in the season, Nunn and the Lakers are going to look back on this season as a nearly wholly lost one due to his injury. It’s an unfortunate scenario in a year full of unfortunate events (read: the season as a whole, basically) for the Lakers.
Hopefully, for his sake as much as the Lakers’, Nunn is able to get healthy and contribute once again, whether that’s at the tail end of this season, or next year.