The Los Angeles Lakers maintained during the opening months of the season that health has been their biggest enemy. They’ve been without LeBron James for long stretches and have had other players miss time, but Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn have yet to even play a game for the Lakers this season.
Both were signed in the offseason with large roles in mind. Ariza was meant to be the team’s primary wing defender, especially in the regular season to be mindful of James’ minutes. Meanwhile, Nunn could be anywhere from a sixth man and top scoring option off the bench to a legitimate starter.
Ariza underwent ankle surgery during the preseason that was projected to keep him out for about eight weeks, while Nunn was originally given a 2-3 week timeline for a bone bruise in his knee. Both projections wound up being false, but there is some optimism for the returns of Ariza and Nunn.
Ariza is significantly closer to returning than Nunn, but both reportedly now have legitimate timetables for a full recovery, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Lakers are hopeful forward Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) will return within the next one-to-two weeks and are hopeful guard Kendrick Nunn (bone bruise, knee) will return in January, sources said. Both players were expected to have important, potential starting roles for the Lakers this season, but have yet to play as they rehab toward full recovery.
Getting both of these players back would be massive for the Lakers, as Ariza would be a boost to the teams’ already improving defense. Meanwhile, Nunn would give the Lakers a bonafide backup point guard, even further lessening the burden on James.
L.A. has shown steady strides in recent weeks, going 5-2 in their last seven games and ranking near the top of both defensive and offensive rating in that time. Of course, re-introducing two major players will mean some awkward rotations at first, but the Lakers could use the boost that Ariza and Nunn provide.
It remains to be seen which players will get left behind in the rotation once they return. DeAndre Jordan, Kent Bazemore and Rajon Rondo are already on the outside looking in for playing time.
Talen Horton-Tucker feeling more comfortable in starting role
After one of his better games of the season against the Orlando Magic, Talen Horton-Tucker revealed that he’s starting to get comfortable playing alongside James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis.
“I’m just feeling comfortable now,” Horton-Tucker said. “Just trying to settle down into the role that I’m playing for this team. Just trying to figure out where my shots are going to come from and doing the things I can do defensively is going to come. Try to just take my time with that and I feel like as the season keeps moving on, we’re going to get better.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!