In the span of just a few hours on Friday, the Lakers publicly downgraded Dennis Schröder to questionable — and then out entirely — with previously undisclosed neck spasms just a few hours ahead of their matchup with the Phoenix Suns. On Saturday, the team is listing him on their injury report as “questionable” to play in their final game of the season on Sunday vs. the Utah Jazz with “right Achilles soreness.”
The soreness is a different injury unrelated to the neck spasms, and this is the first time that the Lakers are listing Schröder with it. On Friday, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham chalked up the originally listed neck injury to “overall wear and tear” for the team’s diminutive sometimes-starter.
“Sometimes things just kick in while you’re laying in bed,” Ham said. “He’s been battling, we call him ‘Mr. 94/50,’ just the way he is tenacious with his on-ball defense navigating screens and all of that.”
If Dennis does miss Sunday’s game, it will be his second absence in a row. Until Friday, he had played in every single game for the Lakers since redebuting for the team in their 14th game of the season.
On Friday, Ham said the Lakers were “just trying to get out ahead of” the injury.
“Extreme neck soreness, it happens, I’ve actually experienced that as a player before. We’ve just got to do all we can to protect him and make sure he’s getting the proper treatment and try to give him a couple days,” Ham said.
Lonnie Walker IV will likely continue to replace Schröder in the rotation (as was the case on Friday, and usually has happened when the Lakers have suffered a guard injury during the second half of the season):
Ham said Lonnie is “the obvious choice” to replace Dennis in the rotation— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) April 8, 2023
For however long Schröder is out in addition to more minutes from Walker, look for Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell (the latter of whom is probable to play vs. Utah with left foot soreness) to take on more ballhandling duties in Schröder’s stead, in addition to LeBron James (who is questionable on Sunday with right foot soreness) to bring the ball down the court more frequently.
How long this injury will cost Schröder remains unknown, but two different injuries, two games in a row certainly don’t seem to portend positive things. After the Jazz game, the team will know if they’re going to be participating in a play-in game on April 11, or resting up for the first round of the NBA playoffs. As all that approaches, add Schröder to the list of players whose health status everyone paying attention to this team will be closely monitoring.
The Lakers and Jazz will tip off at 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, and the game will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet.
Cooper Halpern contributed to this breaking news story, which may be updated with more information and analysis as it continues to develop. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.