Injuries have played a big role in the Los Angeles Lakers season to this point. One player who has yet to even step foot on the court is Trevor Ariza, who underwent an ankle procedure during training camp.
Ariza was supposed to be the team’s starting small forward and one of the primary wing defenders. Instead, the Lakers have had to go deep into their bench to find quality defenders. We are now at the eight-week mark since his surgery, which is when he was supposed to be re-evaluated.
While he is not yet ready to play in games, Frank Vogel did give the first truly positive update on Ariza’s status. “Positive news for Trevor. Trevor did, for the first time this season, participate in practice on a non-contact basis,” Vogel said on Thursday. “Most of the practice was non-contact, so he was in just about everything.
“Obviously a lot of different movements that go into that. He’s still a ways away, still has a build-up period before we can expect him to be in the lineup. But definitely a positive step today.”
As Vogel said, Ariza being able to practice — even in a limited capacity — is a positive step. Ariza is a critical component of the team’s defensive strategy, and him being out for the last 23 games has certainly made things more difficult on other players.
Ariza returning would allow for more versatile lineups that include Anthony Davis at center without sacrificing too much defensively. It would also allow players like Austin Reaves and Carmelo Anthony to go back to playing their natural positions.
At this point, it’s unclear how much longer he’ll miss. Vogel has used the term “a ways away” several times with regard to Ariza and other players, but the times vary on how long before that player is back in the lineup.
Avery Bradley won’t need surgery
There was some concern that Avery Bradley would miss significant time with a UCL injury in his thumb. However, Vogel cleared things up on his status, saying that he won’t need surgery and that he’ll be available to play moving forward using a splint.
Vogel has not yet decided how much time he’ll give Bradley to rest and recover before putting him back in the lineup, however.
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