One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been the status of Kendrick Nunn. When Nunn initially suffered a bone bruise in his knee during the preseason, his original timetable was 2-3 weeks.
Since then, it has been almost four months and there appear to be no signs of a return date. At one point, the Lakers believed Nunn would be able to return at the end of January. However, a mid-January setback pushed that back, and L.A. never set a new timetable on a return.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel didn’t have any significant information on Nunn, only informing the media of a recent workout during Wednesday morning’s shootaround.
“He worked out this morning,” Vogel said. “I haven’t gotten an update on how he responded, said he felt good though.”
While a successful workout without setbacks usually means the beginning of a ramp-up process, Vogel wouldn’t commit to that with Nunn. “Yeah, I mean, he’s just in that process of monitoring how the activity feels day-to-day.”
Vogel added that Nunn has not yet had a full contact practice, adding another level of uncertainty to his return. With the Lakers already 51 games into their season, it’s disheartening that Nunn has not even been able to practice with the team.
Nunn is the fifth-highest paid player on the Lakers roster, and L.A. used their largest free agency chip — a taxpayer mid-level exception — to get him. So to have him not play a single regular-season game is a huge loss for the Lakers.
This is not to say that the Lakers’ record would be drastically different if Nunn had been playing, but it does mean they have not had even one chance to play the rotation they planned on during the offseason.
Hopefully, Nunn is able to begin ramping up soon. If he can get into the lineup sometime during the month of February, he may have enough time to find a solidified role in time for the postseason.
Vogel discusses lineup issues due to injuries
Injuries have been a defining feature for the Lakers all season long. Beyond Nunn, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Austin Reaves have all missed significant time. This has presented a number of challenges for Vogel.
“Our bigger lineups don’t have enough shooting to score well enough to win. It’s what we learned early in the season. We’re trying to play with the lineups that we have with more space offensively and hoping we can make improvements on the defensive side of the ball.
“The things that were hurting us we feel defensively are things that we can improve with better habits and better execution and better effort and disposition, which has been there times, but not enough. But ideally, we want to have the flexibility to play defensively bigger lineups against certain matchups and have a more set rotation of being smaller as much as the league is playing small.”
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