One of the breakout stars of the season for the Lakers, Lonnie Walker has provided everything the franchise expected of him and more when signed this offseason. Walker is having a career-best season in pretty much every facet, particularly in the scoring department in both terms of raw output as well as efficiency.
All that makes his absence in recent contests particularly impactful. Originally listed on the injury report with a tailbone contusion, Walker has missed the last two games for the Lakers with left knee soreness. Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Heat, head coach Darvin Ham spoke about Walker’s injury.
Regarding Lonnie's tailbone/knee situation, Ham said it's normal "to have a little bit of tendonitis" on the knee you explode off of, and the team is playing it cautious with him— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) January 5, 2023
Darvin Ham said that Lonnie Walker IV recently began experiencing tendinitis in his knee. He said the Lakers are “bringing him along slow.”— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 5, 2023
The general injury and the vagueness with which Ham discussed it is concerning. The Lakers can ill afford injuries, and Walker has not just been one of the breakout stars, he’s been simply one of their best players.
While he isn’t exactly a wing, the team’s lack of them entirely makes Walker’s absence more impactful. He’s a wing-adjacent player which is particularly valuable to the Lakers.
And though there isn’t any good time for him to be out injured, coming at a time when the Lakers already don’t have Anthony Davis and won’t have LeBron James on Wednesday makes it an even more damaging absence.
The other concern is that Walker’s injury isn’t that’s going to simply heal up and go away in the coming days and weeks. Tendinitis is a lingering injury that could and likely will continue to bother Walker moving forward.
And the Lakers don’t have much time for rest in the schedule. After playing Miami, the Lakers will be back in action on Friday and Saturday for a back-to-back. The nature of an NBA schedule is one that doesn’t lend itself to long periods of rest, so to some effect, Walker is going to have to play through some pain if he returns in the near future.
More importantly, considering how good of a season he’s having and what it could mean for him heading into free agency, you hope Walker can get back on the court soon and continue making a big impact.