The Los Angeles Lakers announced less than two hours before their Friday tip-off vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder that D’Angelo Russell would be out for at least one game with previously unmentioned “right hip soreness.”
Russell, who was originally not on the team’s injury report, was downgraded to questionable earlier on Friday morning. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told reporters pregame that Russell would be “day-to-day” moving forward.
“He was evaluated today and has a little something going on with his hip and it was decided it was best if we hold him out tonight,” Ham said. “I think it got aggravated last game. It’s not too serious, but serious enough where we need to manage it, so thus the decision for him to be out.”
Ahead of the team’s Sunday matchup with the Chicago Bulls, the organization listed Russell on their initial injury report for that matchup as “questionable.”
Following his midseason trade to the Lakers, Russell previously missed six games with a right ankle sprain (and the majority of a seventh in which he sustained the injury). Since returning to the team and the starting lineup, he has averaged 21.6 points per game and 7.1 assists while shooting 48.2% from the field and 40.7% from three.
Austin Reaves has already moved into the starting lineup after an incredible week of games, where he has already taken some of the ballhandling load off of Russell, and role continued on Friday night. However, he won’t be the full-time point guard for the team, as Dennis Schröder replaced Russell with the starters rather than Malik Beasley.
“We’re fortunate we have a starting-caliber point guard on our bench in Dennis Schröder,” Ham said.
How much Ham staggers those two lead playmakers will be something to monitor for as long as Russell is held out.
In Russell’s absence, Lonnie Walker IV also rejoined the rotation after a string of three straight DNP-CDs and played one of his most effective games of the season on Friday, scoring 20 points on 7-12 shooting off the bench.
Russell won’t have much runway to return if he misses more than the one game he already has. Including their matchup with Chicago, the Lakers (37-37) have just eight games left in the 2022-23 season.
The Lakers will tip off against the Bulls at The Crypt in Los Angeles at 12:30 p.m. PT, and the game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.