Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov certainly hasn’t been taking it easy since signing with the Lakers earlier this summer. Instead, the 7’1″ behemoth has been playing for his home country of Russia, helping the team advance in FIBA’s EuroBasket competition. Mozgov is the only current NBA player on the Russian team, and he led the way with averages of 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.
While it’s always great to see a player proudly represent his country, Lakers fans had to be a bit nervous after Mozgov injured his groin while playing for Russia last month. He eventually recovered, but after awarding the 30-year-old big man a massive four-year, $64 million contract in July, it’s certainly nerve-wracking to see Mozgov sidelined.
Despite the setback, Mozgov performed well in Russia’s final performance of the qualifying round, where they defeated Sweden 63-59. The entire game can be viewed on YouTube:
For the Lakers, there are some pros and cons to Mozgov spending his summer playing for Russia. On the positive side, Mozgov will be in shape and won’t have any rust to work off at the beginning of training camp. His skills should be sharp after competing in meaningful games during the summer. The downside, of course, is that he hasn’t had as much time for his body to rest and recuperate, which increases the likelihood of injury. Given the size and length of his contract, the Lakers need him to be a productive player next season, and that means they need him to stay healthy.
After the game against Sweden, a satisfied Mozgov posted a picture of himself to his Facebook account showing his knees wrapped in ice, which won’t do much to alleviate concerns:
The EuroBasket Tournament will be played next summer from August 31st to September 17th, which means that Mozgov will be in the same situation next summer. The Lakers will have to cross their fingers and hope that their new starting center can stay healthy and keep himself fresh for the NBA season.