Coming into the season it was clear that Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel would have his work cut out for him figuring out the rotation as the roster has 11 players who are deserving of regular playing time.
With the team having some struggles however, Vogel decided to make a change to the rotation that saw veterans Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews not seeing the court for a stretch of games.
But with both Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso each missing both contests against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Vogel turned back to his veterans and they delivered, especially on Wednesday night. Matthews scored 10 points while Morris had nine points and six rebounds with each hitting massive 3-pointers down the stretch of the Lakers’ 114-113 overtime victory.
While Matthews just joined the team this offseason, Morris was part of last season’s championship squad and played a huge role in the Lakers hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, shooting 42% from deep in over 18 minutes per game.
He admitted going from that to falling out of the Lakers rotation has been a difficult adjustment. “It’s tough,” Morris began.
“It’s not an easy thing to be told you’re not in the lineup right now because they’ve got to try to find minutes to get other guys in rhythm. But this is a tough season for everybody. We’ve got a deep team, so me and Wes just have to stay ready.
“When our time is called we’ve got to be ready to play. As competitors, it’s just tough to not be out there battling with your teammates.”
The addition of Montrezl Harrell along with the emergence of Talen Horton-Tucker has made finding minutes for everyone a difficult proposition for Vogel. Morris hasn’t been quite as effective as he was during the playoffs last season, shooting only 31.4% from 3-point range.
With Vogel needing a boost of energy from his bench, he decided to go with more minutes for Horton-Tucker and Caruso minutes. Though difficult to accept, what surely helped Morris was how honest Vogel was and openly communicating with the veteran forward and Matthews.
They both expect to be a part of the rotation, but they didn’t pout about it, and instead continued to stay ready which allowed them to contribute when the Lakers were without a couple of regulars.
The depth on the Lakers roster remains their biggest strength and when they can turn to reliable veterans such as Morris and Matthews is a huge advantage. Vogel has always maintained there were no plans to keep the veterans on the bench for the rest of the season.
Both will almost surely play a role for the Lakers in the playoffs and keeping them locked in and ready will pay dividends for this team when that time comes.
Lakers will continue to be cautious with Anthony Davis’ achilles injury
One thing that will obviously play a factor in Morris’ minutes is the availability of Davis. While Davis has sat out a game here or there, this is the first time he has missed consecutive games.
“He was hopeful to play,” Vogel said before Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. “He warmed it up this morning and still has some discomfort there, so again, we’re being cautious with it.
Vogel has said that there is no long-term concern with this injury, but coming off a short offseason it is undoubtedly the better move to remain cautious and ensure this doesn’t get any worse
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