Every time it feels like the Los Angeles Lakers are getting healthy, another hit comes and sets the team back.
After Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard were cleared to return, the Lakers lost another key rotation member as Trevor Ariza was announced as the newest member to be placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
It is a frustrating turn of events for Ariza and Los Angeles as the veteran was coming off a great game against the Phoenix Suns but was forced to miss their matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
While losing Ariza is a blow, Lakers assistant head coach David Fizdale emphasized the team will need to step up in his absence and focus only on what they can control.
“After two great games, he comes in and just fills his role very well,” Fizdale said. “You could see why he’s here and what he’s here for and then obviously this. And yes, it’s difficult, man. I can’t stress how difficult it is, but our response to it is all we control. It’s next-man-up mentality and from a coaching staff standpoint is the task for whoever was in the rotation, lets get behind who is in the rotation and keep it moving that way. Don’t get caught up too much in the complaining part of it.”
The next-man-up mentality has been a theme for the Lakers this season with nearly every player missing time due to injury or protocol, but it has tested their depth the past couple of weeks. Los Angeles has signed players like Isaiah Thomas for momentary relief, but losing a player like Ariza severely limits their options as far as lineup versatility goes.
At this point, the burden on LeBron James and Russell Westbrook only grows larger with another key role player out while Fizdale will need to try and find the right combination of players to make up for Ariza’s two-way play. The Purple and Gold can not seem to catch a break but hopefully they are able to rally from yet another setback.
Fizdale believes Ariza adds versatility to Lakers
Ariza gave the Lakers a glimpse at what the team could look like once he was healthy as he showed his ability to be a much-needed 3-and-D wing. Without many forwards on the roster, Fizdale noted that the veteran adds some much-needed versatility, though they will now have to wait to see it on the floor.
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