After missing the last three games with an ankle sprain he suffered less than nine minutes into the fourth game in that stretch, it sounds like Lakers starting point guard D’Angelo Russell will miss at least one more contest.
Following the team’s undermanned road win vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, Russell told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that he will not play against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday:
D’Angelo Russell will miss a fourth straight game Friday against Minnesota because of his right ankle sprain, Russell told ESPN. Asked if Sunday vs. GSW was a potential return date, Russell said, “We’ll see once we get through Friday.”— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 2, 2023
The Lakers were previously said to be targeting Friday’s game as a potential return date for Russell, but it seems his ankle is not cooperating. Our own Dr. Rajpal Brar explained why this issue may be taking longer than Russell or the team had hoped.
Latest on DLo. Grade 1 ankle inversion sprains can take 1 to 2 weeks to fully resolve so this aligns. Hard to know until you see how it responds to treatment & activity progressions. #Lakers https://t.co/wfhpILvdxy— Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT (@3cbPerformance) March 2, 2023
With Russell out and no return for LeBron James in sight, the Lakers are already extremely understaffed with ballhandlers. And with Dennis Schröder suffering his own ankle injury before gutting out Wednesday’s win to finish with 26 points and 6 assists, the Lakers could be at a critical deficit of playmaking if Schröder’s ankle stiffens up overnight and forces him to miss time.
None of that is ideal for a team desperately trying to scratch and claw their way back into play-in contention, but for now, this is the hand the Lakers have been dealt. For as long as Russell remains out, expect Schröder (if healthy) to continue starting at point guard, with Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV picking up additional playmaking slack off the bench.
So if Russell is indeed out on Friday — and it’s safe to guess he wouldn’t have told McMenamin he was if he thought there was a chance he could play — then his next chance to return would be Sunday. If he misses a fifth straight game that day, then the Lakers next play the following Tuesday, March 7, against the Memphis Grizzlies at home.
And if Russell can’t return by then, well, it may officially be time to panic.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.