Lakers Media Day was Tuesday and there were lots of good feelings being spread around with optimism abound (especially related to Brandon Ingram). But not all the news was great as we learned that Brook Lopez and Josh Hart will be limited to start camp, which opens on Wednesday.
Let’s start with Lopez. The OC Register’s Bill Oram reported Lopez was dealing with back issues this summer, providing additional context to the Andrew Bogut signing. After dealing with foot problems earlier in his career, Lopez has actually been relatively healthy the last several seasons, but anytime his name and even a hint of injury is mentioned, there will be concern.
Lopez tried to nip those in the bud, however, by noting he is, basically, fine.
Maybe him being held back to start camp is more of a precaution than anything else, but this will be something to monitor as the preseason progresses. If Lopez misses some time, but is ultimately fine, I think everyone would be perfectly okay with that.
However, the other side of this is that as a new player who will be a key performer, any time missed could end up disrupting a chemistry which still needs to be established and refined. When you add how important a healthy Lopez will be to the success of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, every minute he can be available, the better.
As for Hart, while he’s not as foundational a player as Lopez, him missing time is still important. First off, he’s a rookie. Any time he misses puts him more behind than a veteran would be — even if Hart was a 4-year player at Villanova. Second, Hart will be fighting for minutes and a role on the perimeter this season.
The Lakers may not be deep at the guard positions, but in Lonzo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jordan Clarkson, the team already has a lot of their backcourt minutes accounted for. Tyler Ennis is already slotted as the backup PG as well, which doesn’t leave many, if any, minutes for Hart. In other words, Hart is going to need to show he deserves some run and the only way you do that is by practicing and competing. If he’s limited, then, that only puts him further behind.
That said, hamstring issues can linger and should be treated with caution. Soft tissue strains can easily turn into tears if pushed too early in the recovery process, so Hart should be given proper time to heal and get to 100%. Magic Johnson singled out Hart for his defensive prowess during Monday’s media session, so it’s clear there are expectations for Hart to eventually have an opportunity to show he should get some minutes.
We will continue to update you as we get more information on both Lopez and Hart’s availability.