Archives For Laker News

In a bit of a twist I certainly did not see coming, the Lakers have worked out former Rockets big man Donatas Motiejunas. From ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne:

The Los Angeles Lakers have auditioned free-agent big man Donatas Motiejunas within the past week, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN that the Lakers brought Motiejunas in before Christmas to work out in front of the front office and coaching staff, but it remains unclear whether they’ll go ahead with signing the former first-round pick.

Apparently, the hold up in potentially offering Montiejunas a contract has to do with the current depth in the front court and how that might disrupt current roles:

But sources said the Lakers are weighing whether there are enough minutes to go around, with the blossoming Julius Randle and Tarik Black playing the bulk of the frontcourt minutes while Nance is out.

The fact that the Lakers are still kicking the tires on available players and looking to add talent is a good thing. Regardless of how much they like the construction of the current team, adding talented players who fit the team’s scheme should always be on the table — and Montiejunas certainly fits that description.

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The walking wounded Lakers may have reinforcements coming. Both D’Angelo Russell (at least 2 weeks) and Nick Young (2-4 weeks) are in the window of time in which they may be ready to return and it looks like it will happen for both sooner than later:

Luke Walton also noted that Nick Young practiced fully on Saturday, with the implication he too should return shortly. So it looks as though Sunday’s game against the Knicks is a realistic target for Russell, with Monday looking almost close to certain. Young could potentially join him on Monday.

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The Lakers are the proverbial walking wounded right now. Nick Young is out with a strained calf. Jose Calderon is out with a strained hamstring. In Monday’s loss to the Jazz, Tarik Black sprained his ankle and did not return to the game. Larry Nance, Jr. sat out the game vs. the Jazz with a knee contusion. And, of course, D’Angelo Russell has been out with knee soreness and the resulting PRP injection he took to stimulate healing. That’s four key rotation players and the point guard who has replaced Russell while he’s been out.

There may be some good news on the horizon, though. At least in terms of Russell.

Russell’s initial diagnosis was that he’d be out at least two weeks. We are approaching that mark now, so it’s good to hear that he is (essentially) on schedule. Though he will not travel on Wednesday (which would be 14 days since the injection), the fact that he is progressing enough to get back on the court is promising. This doesn’t mean he will be ready to play by weeks end, though.

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The Lakers cannot catch a break on the injury front. After leaving the Grizzlies game with a hamstring injury on Saturday, an MRI has confirmed a strain in the muscle per a team release. Calderon will be out 2-4 weeks, joining D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young as other guards who are not healthy enough to play.

Calderon had performed admirably as a fill-in starter for Russell, averaging 6 points and nearly 4 assists while shooting 47.8% from the field (42.1% from distance) in 17 minutes a night. These aren’t world beater numbers by any means and he had his (predictable) issues defensively, but considering he’d not been in the rotation at all following the first Hawks game early in the year, he did well to step in the way he did.

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After Nick Young left Tuesday’s loss to the Pelicans with what was originally being called a strained achilles tendon, we have been waiting on this MRI results to get the official word. Those results are now in and, per the Lakers, Young has a strained calf muscle in his right leg and is out 2-4 weeks.

This is both a dose of good news and stroke of bad luck/timing that will be difficult to manage.

On the good side, whenever the words “achilles” are tied to an injury report and an MRI is needed, I have trepidations. I know full tears can usually be diagnosed without an MRI, but the possibility of a partial tear or damage to the achilles in general could have taken him out of the lineup for a lot longer than the 2-4 week estimate.

That said, the Lakers will now be without Young for upwards of a month which is a major blow to their lineup. As their starting shooting guard, Young plays 25 minutes a night and scores 13 points a game. Replacing those minutes and production is not a minor feat. Further, Young is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, connecting on 41.8% of shots behind the arc while taking 6 attempts a night. And this says nothing of the fact that Young is often asked to guard the other team’s best wing scorer.

There’s simply no replacement on the roster who can step in and mirror Young’s skill set. (Imagine saying this two months ago! Life comes at you fast.)

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We already knew D’Angelo Russell, after missing Tuesday’s game against the Thunder, was ruled out for today’s game against the Warriors. It turns out, however, that he will be out longer than just those two games. According to the team, he received a PRP injection into his left knee and will be out a minimum of two weeks. He will be reevaluated after one week, likely to see how his knee has taken to the injection.

For those who are not familiar with PRP, it is similar to the treatments Kobe used to travel to Germany to treat his knee issues in the second half of his career. Per wikipedia, PRP “is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets. As a concentrated source of autologous platelets, PRP contains several different growth factors and other cytokines that can stimulate healing of soft tissue.” In layman’s terms, they take some of Russell’s own blood, treat it in a way to concentrate the platelets (which promote healing), and then inject it back into the area which you want to feel better — in this case, Russell’s knee.

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The final roster construction is the main story of the day, with a 2pm Pacific Time deadline to get rosters down to the league maximum 15. The Lakers already made a move, granting Yi Jianlian his request by waiving him so he could explore alternatives.

With Yi moving on, it was assumed the final roster spot would come down to Thomas Robinson or Metta World Peace. It turns out that assumption may be wrong. From Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:

I did not see this coming, honestly. Brown, though only making $874K this season, has a guaranteed salary. And while he has not gotten a lot of opportunities to play in the preseason, his skill set and potential to develop into the coveted “3-and-D” player is something I thought the Lakers would value and want to hold onto.

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For nearly a week, Luke Walton has said he was unsure who would make the Lakers’ final roster. With 17 guys on the team and a deadline looming to cut at least two players, Walton said nice things about all the bubble players then pivoted to a need to watch some game tape then have conversations with his staff and Mitch Kupchak.

Before a final decision could be made, however, Yi Jianlian — one of the bubble players — intervened and made the decision easier. From ESPN’s Marc Stein:

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