Most every player on the Los Angeles Lakers have spent at least some time on the carousel of injuries taunting the team this season. For Kendrick Nunn, it’s a ride that hasn’t stopped.
Nunn has been trying to get off that ride all season but has been met with only setbacks so far. The guard, who the Lakers acquired as a free agent from the Miami Heat during the summer, has yet to play in a regular-season game this year due to a bone bruise in his knee.
An inconsistent return timeline has been the only Nunn content available to fans who expected to see the guard’s powerhouse defense and all-around shooting bolster the Lakers’ championship odds.
While there’s hope that Nunn will be able to return at some point, he has still yet to practice.
Nunn was at first expected to make his return in January, but the increase in activity was too much for him, and the team announced in February that he would be reevaluated in March. With only nine games left in the season, it’s becoming less and less likely we’ll see Nunn at all until next year. As to why he hasn’t been ruled out for the season yet, Frank Vogel wasn’t sure himself.
“That’s a good question,” Vogel said. “I haven’t circled back with a recent update on that other than to know that he’s trying. I don’t know when the next MRI is, but the intent is for him to continue to ramp up activity to where his imaging is coming back clean. And I think there have been some improvements, but not enough to see him back in practice.”
Nunn has the fifth-largest contract on the team, and for good reason. The guard was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2019 after going undrafted. He averages 15 points a game, shoots 45.8% from the field along with three assists a game.
Assuming the Lakers see postseason play, it’s likely we still won’t see Nunn given the amount of time (or lack of) he has spent with the current roster.
Dwight Howard says it’s tough on veterans to miss games
While the Lakers fight to keep their spot in the Play-In Tournament with only eight games left to play, every lineup on the floor matters. Five minutes of the wrong combination of players on the floor can result in a double-digit deficit, for which the Lakers are famous for.
Vogel also has to prepare the younger players on the roster for the chance they might see their first playoff run. Throw in a rotation of injuries and it’s no wonder Vogel is constantly tweaking with his lineup, and often opting for younger, less injury-prone players to play big minutes.
Dwight Howard, who has found himself sidelined multiple times this season, says the sporadic schedule can sometimes present a mental obstacle for veterans.
“You’ve got to stay professional. It’s very tough mentally to miss games as a vet and then come back and play. But at this point, whatever we have to do as a team to win, we got to be able to sacrifice and do it no matter how much it might hurt us individually. We just got to stick to it.”
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