The Los Angeles Lakers were hoping to get through the preseason injury-free, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In the second game against the Denver Nuggets, they lost rookie point guard Lonzo Ball to a sprained ankle, and now it appears that power forward Julius Randle has also fallen victim to the injury bug.
Randle, who had been playing well in the final preseason game of the year against the Los Angeles Clippers, made a move in the paint but twisted awkwardly and grabbed his lower back. He looked like he wanted to stay on the floor but was clearly in some discomfort.
Head coach Luke Walton subbed in rookie big man Thomas Bryant, and Randle headed back to the locker room. A short time later the Lakers diagnosed him with back spasms, via Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:
Julius Randle was diagnosed with back spasms, and will not return tonight.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 14, 2017
For now, we will have to hope that Randle has avoided serious injury. Back spasms can linger and are particularly concerning for a big man who takes a lot of contact by banging down low. The Lakers were already cautious with Brook Lopez, holding him out of the first few preseason games due to his own bout with back spasms.
It’s possible that these spasms will put Randle’s availability for Thursday’s season opener against the Clippers in doubt. Should he be unable to go, one would have to imagine that the Lakers will turn to rookie forward Kyle Kuzma to absorb some of Randle’s minutes at power forward. Larry Nance Jr. could also see more minutes tossed his way, and there is an outside chance that veteran Luol Deng or rookie Thomas Bryant could also be utilized.
For now, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that Randle will be ok by opening night.