The 2016-2017 NBA season has been a trying one for the Los Angeles Lakers and it appears that they will be short-handed down the home stretch. The team has already shut down veterans Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, and Nick Young for the season, with the goal being to give more minutes to their young players.
Unfortunately, rookie center Ivica Zubac has been declared out thanks to a high ankle sprain, and swingman Brandon Ingram is on a minutes restriction following a knee injury. Now, it appears that reserve center Tarik Black may not be able to play against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night due to a minor knee injury of his own (suffered Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers), per Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group:
Subject to change, but Ingram listed as probable (tendinitis in R knee) & T. Black as questionable (mild left knee sprain) for Wed vs Spurs
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 3, 2017
Obviously, the Lakers are in for a tough night against the Spurs even if they have a fully healthy squad, but without both Zubac and potentially Black they will have to use small-ball lineups to get by. This could be problematic given the Spurs strong interior presence, where they have an impressive platoon of LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon, and former-Laker Pau Gasol.
Of course, Black wasn’t available in the Lakers past game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the team still managed to pull out a win. Reserve power forward Larry Nance Jr. started at center alongside Julius Randle, and the duo was able to be effective crashing the offensive glass, as was reserve big man Thomas Robison.
Still, Black’s presence will undoubtedly be missed in the paint, as will his leadership on and off the floor. With only a few games remaining, the Lakers have to hope to stay as healthy as possible so they can head into the offseason on a positive note.