Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton has faced a big struggle recently, trying to balance the minutes of his young players as the team’s rotation has been destroyed by injuries.
During the month of March the three top players in the NBA in terms of minutes per game were all Lakers, and it’s something that Walton really wants to curtail. “Obviously we want to win. But with the bodies we have and people being banged up, I’m not going to play Kuzma 45 minutes, trying to get a win,” Walton explained.
“I’ll probably play him a lot, but we do have to keep our guys healthy.”
There is no doubt that winning is extremely important, but Walton doesn’t want to run his team into the ground in these last few games. The offseason is the time for young players to really work on their game and grow, and that time can be cut into if players are dealing with injuries.
As far as Walton is concerned, wins matter, but not as much as the health of his players.
“We’re not going to make the playoffs [but] we are going to fight as hard as we can to get wins, and we’re also going to be cautious with how much we’re running guys,” Walton said.
Over the last couple of months the Lakers have been without Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas, and Josh Hart for extended periods of time. It’s been so rough that practice basically doesn’t exist for the Lakers.
“A lot of it too has come with the price of practice. We’ve pretty much stopped practicing, expect for bringing guys in to play 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 to rehab players back into the lineup,” Walton explained.
The Lakers face nothing but teams fighting for the playoffs in their final six games and Walton knows that the team must step up if they plan on ending the year on a positive note. No one wants to win more than Walton, but the health of the team is his top priority and he won’t sacrifice that for victories.
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