Archives For injury

UPDATE: The Lakers released more information about Ron’s injury and recovery timetable and it’s not good:

This, of course, was always a possibility but now that it’s official it is dispiriting. Barring what would right now look to be an unlikely run in the playoffs, Ron’s season is over.

The hits keep on coming. This time, it’s the player I still affectionately call Ron who has been bit by the injury bug. As we mentioned in our game recap, Ron sat out the 2nd half of Monday’s game against the Warriors with what was being called a strained knee. Today he received and MRI in Minnesota and the news was not good:

Another in a long line of injuries this season. This one, just like the others, poses a real problem for the Lakers in both the short an the long term.

As we’ve discussed several times before, the Lakers are already thin on the wing. While the Lakers have several guards who can play on the wing (Kobe, Meeks, Blake), Ron is the only true small forward who has played any substantial role this season. He’s a vital rotation player if only because of the position he plays and the minutes he soaks up as a viable two way player. For a team that’s as top heavy and as shallow at certain positions as the Lakers, these middle tier role players who’ve earned minutes are nearly as indispensable as the big four.

Beyond the minutes, though, Ron’s also been an underrated performer in terms of how his on court performance has translated to team success. When Ron is on the floor, the Lakers’ offensive efficiency is 5.1 points better than when he’s on the bench. On defense, he has a similar impact as the team’s defensive efficiency is 4.8 points better when he’s on the floor than when he’s on the bench. These splits — especially on defense — are some of the best on the team and represent a player who clearly impacts team performance even if he’s had his ups and downs as an individual performer.

Continue Reading…

Antawn Jamison came out of Friday’s game to the Wizards clutching his right wrist. He didn’t return to the game and afterwards had X-rays taken that thankfully came back negative. On Saturday, Jamison had an MRI on that wrist and the results allowed a brief sigh of relief:

Jamison plans to play through the injury and should be in the lineup when the Lakers travel to Oakland to play the Warriors on Monday. Again, this is good news and allows Lakers’ fans to exhale for a moment.

However, while breathing that sigh of relief, there should also be some concerns about how effective Jamison can be with an injured wrist on his shooting hand. Jamison is a player whose value resides almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. He is the Lakers best bench scorer and is a key rotation player based on a skill set that revolves around getting buckets. Anything that compromises his ability to perform this task is problematic.

And a bad wrist on his shooting hand is something that has a good chance of doing just that. Anyone who has ever sprained their wrist knows how it affects range of motion and how painful it can be when it gets flexed the wrong way. Considering a jump shot is completed by snapping your wrist to propel the ball forward, I don’t see any way in which this injury doesn’t affect Jamison’s outside shot. I’m not questioning his ability to play through pain — nor do I know how much pain he’s actually in — but I’m simply stating the fact that any wrist injury will affect a player’s ability to shoot a basketball.

Furthermore, Jamison’s a player who relies heavily on craft around the basket to score. He’s very good at scoring on flip and scoop shots and is also great at drawing fouls when taking shots at awkward angles or with strange timing. If his wrist affects his touch on those shots, his ability to score around the rim could be compromised. Plus, if his unorthodox approach around the rim leads to more contact when he’s attempting shots, he could be exposing himself to the types of swipes and hits that lead to him hurting his wrist further.

I’m quite happy that Jamison is going to gut through this injury and try to play. He’s become a vital part of the Lakers’ rotation and considering the team is in the home stretch, they need all available bodies to aid their push towards the post-season. That said, this is a tricky injury for a player like Jamison to navigate and it wouldn’t surprise me if his ability to perform at pre-injury levels is compromised. And if that ends up being the case, one has to wonder how that changes the Lakers’ rotations (if at all) and what the domino effect would be on the team not just from a production standpoint, but in terms of rotations and player groupings.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here and there’s a chance Jamison will be just fine. He’s a veteran player, knows his body, and may have experience in adjusting to an ailment on his shooting hand. Players who’ve been around along as him have surely dealt with nearly every kind of injury there is and have found ways to work around most things that don’t keep them off the floor. I think we all hope this turns out to be the case.

But if it’s not, the Lakers are once again going to have to adjust to having a key rotation player banged up. It’s something that is, sad to say, something they’ve had a lot of experience with this year.

Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  March 14, 2013

Last night’s game with the Hawks actually provided two losses — one from the game itself and one in the form of the Lakers’ superstar shooting guard to injury. Kobe’s ankle looks like it’s about nine months pregnant and the team says he’s out indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain. So, with plenty to discuss in Laker-land, here’s some fast break thoughts on the injury bug, the playoffs, and other general musings…

  • Was the play dirty? That’s the question of the day and that gets complicated rather quickly. On twitter I used that term, but would amend it to say, instead, that it was simply an unsafe play by Jones. There are plenty of ways to contest a fadeaway jump shot, but walking into and underneath an airborne player is one of the more dangerous ways to do so. Here’s a screen shot of Jones contesting Kobe’s shot:

Kobe Ankle

  • The reason why I’d say “unsafe” rather than “dirty” is because the latter implies intent. I’ve no clue what Jones’ intent was and prefer not to get into that at all. This in’t the real world where we get to go into a court room, hear testimony, and make a determination. There’s no “you can’t handle the truth” moment coming here. So, I see no need to get into that. Instead, let’s focus on the act and that act was Jones walking underneath a player in the air. That’s an unsafe play no matter how you slice it. I’m not out to disparage Jones or judge his actions through the prism of what I thought he meant to do. What he meant to do isn’t as important as what he actually did. And, in this case, the pictures and video show what he did.
  • What’s done is done, though. Arguing over it is less important than what happens next. The Lakers, simply based off their press release, imply Kobe will miss time. And, while there’s a train of thought that Kobe won’t miss any time (he is Kobe after all), I think he’ll miss at least a game and maybe more.
  • If that ends up being the case, the Lakers’ lack of depth on the wing will be a big challenge to overcome. Forget for a second that it’s Kobe missing time and simply focus on the fact that he’s currently the team’s starting shooting guard and its backup small forward. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s first substitutions are typically for Jamison to come in for Clark and for Meeks to replace Ron. That latter substitution slides Kobe up to SF where he’s a fixture of a small ball lineup. If Kobe can’t play any SF, who will?
  • Meeks and Blake are undersized for SG, much less SF. Ron has actually been playing PF more than SF if you look at who he defends on a nightly basis. Does this mean more minutes for Clark? He’s seen a decline in his minutes and production over the last month and isn’t exactly 100% healthy either (he’s had ankle, knee, and finger issues lately). Ebanks is glued to the bench and has played exactly 11 minutes since the turn of the calendar year. I don’t see this going well if Kobe is out for a prolonged period.
  • That said, knowing what we do of Kobe, he’ll get treatment on his ankle 24/7 until he can get back on the floor, though. He’s really not human in that regard.
  • In better injury news, Pau Gasol says he hopes to be back next week and it’s being reported he’ll return to the lineup as a starter. This is good news on both fronts. Yes, on both fronts. Before Pau got hurt, we were already starting to see a trend where Clark’s value as a starter was slipping from a team performance standpoint. The starting lineup that included Clark was essentially playing even basketball, their plus/minus numbers flat and their efficiency differentials hovering near zero. Meanwhile, when Clark was replaced by Pau, those numbers were beginning to trend up in a way that reinforced all the preseason belief that these players actually could perform well together as complementary pieces. Yes the sample was small and there were issues to work out defensively, but the numbers and the eye test support the “Big four plus Ron” lineup was starting to make headway as a cohesive unit.
  • Even though Pau will return as a starter, his biggest value should still come as an anchor for the 2nd unit. The bench has really struggled to create consistent offense outside of some good chemistry between Steve Blake and Jamison in the P&R. With Pau back, he can be the man in the middle whose passing and ability to score from all over the floor serve as a ballast for the bench.
  • Furthermore, his defense should also be quite useful. The Lakers’ defense is actually 3.4 points per 100 possessions better when Pau is on the floor versus when he sits, per the NBA’s stats database. It’s often easy to forget that even though Pau isn’t the best option to cover perimeter oriented bigs, he still can protect the rim with his length and do so without fouling. Don’t get me wrong, teams will still attack the paint when Dwight sits, but I’d much rather have Pau back at the basket than a combination of Jamison and Clark.
  • How the rotation shakes out when Pau is back will remain to be seen (and we’ll cover this in detail when he does return), but I would not be surprised to see Clark become more of a SF backing up Ron with Jamison taking the majority of the PF minutes when Pau is out of the game or playing C. Simply based off recent trends and how this coaching staff has deployed lineups in the past, I could see a bench lineup of Blake, Meeks, Clark, Jamison, and Pau starting the 2nd quarter, for example. But, I could also see Clark on the bench with a Dwight, Jamison, Ron trio next to Kobe (or Meeks) and Nash (or Blake) getting big minutes with Clark the odd man out due to Jamison’s greater ability to stretch the floor.
  • Getting away from Laker stuff for a second, show of hands (or, in the comments below) of who would want to do a FB&G March Madness bracket challenge. We didn’t do one last year but I’m considering doing one again this year, but only if the demand is high. We’d figure out a prize for the winner.
  • Also, I’m interested in reviving the FB&G mailbag, but only if there’s interest in it. If you have questions, you can email me by clicking that envelope on the right side of the banner at the top of the site. Just put “mailbag question” in the subject line and ask away.
  • Lastly, friend of FB&G and video maker extraordinaire LD2K has produced another gem that is worth your time. Here you go:

 

Pau Gasol’s MRI results are in and the results are not good. Per Mike Trudell from Lakers.com, Pau is out indefinitely with a partially torn plantar fascia:

Earlier reports from Ken Berger have Pau missing at least 6 weeks if he decides to let the tear heal on its own, or 12 weeks if surgery is the decided course of action. However, as Trudell reports, the Lakers aren’t yet putting a timetable on Pau’s recovery until he can meet with team doctors and a foot specialist. That said, in any event, Pau will be out for a some time and that, of course, is bad news for the Lakers.

Gasol was just starting to find his stride in Mike D’Antoni’s offense both as a replacement for Dwight Howard and in playing next to him. As we noted, Gasol’s shooting efficiency has been up in recent weeks and his individual defense, while not elite, was better than it had been all season. When you add those things to the constants in his game — the passing, rebounding, the general feel of where to be and when — Gasol was a difference maker for the team. Especially with Dwight missing games due to his shoulder injury.

It’s this total skill set that makes “replacing” Pau Gasol impossible. His skill set is too varied and unique for any one player to come in and adequately give the Lakers what they miss with him absent. Not to by hyperbolic, but not even Dwight’s return replaces what Gasol gives the team.

So, seeking another player on the open market is complicated. There are names out there — Kenyon Martin, Troy Murphy, Brian Cook, Sean Williams — who are free agents and could be useful, but to think that any of them should even be considered good options is overselling their abilities at this point.

If I were making decisions, I’d rather play Robert Sacre more until Dwight is ready to return and potentially add a wing so that Ron could slide up to play PF for the majority of his minutes. Since Earl Clark’s emergence, Ron has been more of a SF on offense but he’s still guarded most PF’s the Lakers have faced while Clark has chased players around the perimeter. A more full time shift of Ron to PF with the Lakers exploring options in the wing (where capable 10-15 minute players are easier to find) is the much more reasonable option, rather than combing through the incredibly slim pickings in the FA bigs market.

All that said, it needs to be restated that whatever decision is made, there’s really not a “solution” out there. Losing Gasol is a major blow to the Lakers’ season and finding a way to stay afloat and still make a push for  the playoffs will be incredibly difficult. Even when Dwight returns, the rest of the roster will need to step up a great deal and perform at levels they may not be capable of — at least not consistently.

So, at this point, all the Lakers can do is hope that Howard returns soon, that Pau’s timeline is on the shorter end of the estimates out there, and that the current roster raises their games enough to fill in the gaps the best that they can.

The Lakers lost more than a game against the Nuggets last night. Apparently, they’ve also lost their best three big men to injury as well. Mike Trudell has the news via his @LakersReporter twitter account:

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

Trudell later emphasized, again, that Howard is out at least one week. It certainly could be longer. He’ll be reevaluated next week and depending on how things look we’ll get a new timeline. That could mean he’s out a little bit longer. It could also mean we play the waiting game on Howard like we did with Steve Nash (though, lets hope not). Only time will tell.

Gasol’s situation is a bit trickier. He’s out at least two games but it’s not just a matter of him feeling better. As you remember from last season when Kobe came back from being concussed in the All-Star Game by Dwyane Wade, the NBA has instituted a strict policy to establish a protocol that dictates a player’s return to action after a concussion. Gasol will need to clear every hurdle in this process before he’s able to play again.

Hill’s injury seems to be the most straight forward of the bunch, though he will be reexamined later today. The tenor of the news seems to imply that Hill will be back to action before the others, but as I mentioned with Howard, only time will tell. Hip injuries can be pretty serious in their own right and no player should be rushed back from injury, especially to a crucial part of his body (hard to do any of the essential functions of a basketball player with a bad hip).

Taken individually, these injuries could be accounted for. It’d be hard as all three are vital parts to the rotation, but the next player in line would have to step up. It’s how teams work.

However, taken together and all at the same time is another story. These are the Lakers three best big men and two of their presumed best four players on the entire team. Much like with Nash and Gasol were both sidelined earlier in the year, this Laker team doesn’t have the depth to compensate for missing these caliber of players. No team does, actually.

Logistically speaking, Robert Sacre will be called up from the D-League to play (and likely start at) Center. Jamison will be back in the rotation too, likely starting at power forward. Also expect Earl Clark to see minutes at PF to go along with multiple small ball lineups that see Devin Ebanks and Ron as PF’s (or, as D’Antoni hinted with Ron, even at Center). These aren’t necessarily desirable answers, but they’re the only answers available to the team at this time.

Almost every optimistic prediction about the Lakers for this season was tied, first and foremost, to health. Today, like it’s been for nearly the entire season, the Lakers took another hit in this area. I know it’s simple to say they need to play through it, but at some point you have to wonder if there’s simply too many instances of key rotation players going down to injury for the Lakers to come close to being the group we thought they could be. The rest of the season will tell us if that’s true or not, but news like today’s isn’t encouraging on that front.