The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be EXTREMELY shorthanded against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Not only did the team send out a bunch of players in the 24 hours leading up to the NBA trade deadline, but the team is now downgrading LeBron James to out on their injury report with the left ankle soreness he’s been dealing with for weeks.
According to head coach Darvin Ham, James got imaging on the foot but it is (thankfully) just soreness and does not appear to be anything that will cause him to miss extended time:
Darvin Ham said LeBron James underwent imaging on his foot and Ham said, thanks fully, it only showed normal “wear and tear.”— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 10, 2023
This is an unfortunate absence, as the 25-30 Lakers need every win they can as they try to chase a play-in berth with their newly overhauled roster, but the team also needs James healthy for the long haul. After playing 34 minutes against the Thunder on Tuesday and limping a bit postgame after grabbing at his foot on the bench towards the end, it’s not surprising that the organization’s medical staff is going to give the 38-year-old the night off.
With James out and Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, Thomas Bryant and Patrick Beverley traded, the Lakers may be playing everyone else a lot of minutes vs. Milwaukee. Technically, new additions D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Davon Reed could be available, but it’s extremely rare to see guys suit up for a team on the day they’re traded for, logistically. My guess would be that they don’t play.
There is no doubt about the other new addition, Mo Bamba, as even if he was allowed to be active, he still has to serve the third of a four-game suspension for fighting Austin Rivers.
NBA teams are required to have eight active players to avoid a forfeit. So with LeBron out and the new Lakers presumably not available yet, who does that leave the Lakers with? Well, in addition to Anthony Davis being probable with the right foot stress injury he’s returning from, here are the other seven guys on the roster outside of the new additions.
- Rui Hachimura
- Austin Reaves
- Lonnie Walker IV
- Dennis Schroder
- Wenyen Gabriel
- Max Christie
- Troy Brown Jr.
Two-way players Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider were both listed as on assignment with South Bay on the original injury report, but the team is currently set to play a game in Ontario, California tonight, so they presumably could be hustled back to Los Angeles as emergency reinforcements if necessary.
Either way, the Lakers will be cutting it real, real close, and are officially entering The Kaman Zone.
Will anyone take a nap on the bench tonight? We’ll find out when the Lakers and Bucks tip off at 7 p.m. PT on both TNT and Spectrum SportsNet, in what is likely a game the former is going to have some extreme regrets about televising in the wake of this news.