In the midst of some of their struggles, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked like a contender this season when they have their full allotment of players available.
The Lakers managed to capture the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament championship largely due to having their main rotation players healthy. However, they also showed how poor of a basketball team they can be when missing several pieces, as evidenced by their rough loss to the San Antonio Spurs to end their recent three-game road trip.
While Los Angeles has enjoyed having their plethora of wings, the team has been without Gabe Vincent for almost two months. Vincent has been dealing with left knee effusion and hasn’t played a game since October 10.
There was some hope that Vincent would be able to return against the New York Knicks on Monday night, but he was ultimately ruled out. Before the game against the Knicks, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said Vincent has been progressing but still needs to get his conditioning back up before he returns.
“Gabe has come a long way,” Ham said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, checked every box up until this point. Everything is going according to plan. It’s just a few more conditioning boxes that we need to check to see how he responds to it and then we’ll make the ultimate decision to make him active.”
After missing so much time with injury, it’s not surprising that Vincent has to ramp up his conditioning before being cleared to play again. Given that he’s been dealing with a knee injury, it’s likely that Vincent will need at least a few practices under his belt before getting cleared by the medical staff.
Los Angeles has been able to get by without Vincent as D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves have assumed most of the ball handling and playmaking duties. However, having another capable lead guard would go a long way to helping the offense find its rhythm and giving LeBron James more breaks on ball.
For now, it seems like Vincent isn’t too far away from returning and it’ll be interesting to see if he comes back before the new year.
Lakers In-Season Tournament banner unveiled
Shortly after winning the In-Season Tournament, the Lakers embarked on a three-game road trip before returning home to play the Knicks. With the team returning home to Crypto.com Arena, they finally got to unveil their banner after winning the championship before tipping off against New York.
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