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.
While it’s a downer to have Russell be out for an extended period, I think it’s good to be cautious with him. He’s 20 years old. The last thing the team needs is for him to play through knee pain and 1). make it worse or 2). overcompensate to that pain and injure something else. Russell himself said he favored the knee when he played on Sunday and, long term, I see little good coming from him attempting to do that night after night.
If him getting this treatment and taking some time off helps him come back pain free, I am all for that. Even if he has to sit out longer, I’d ultimately be okay with that too. It would be even more of a downer if that ended up being the case, but again, he’s 20 years old. He should have another decade plus in this league and doing right by his body to ensure he not only gets those years, but is healthy and can maximize his play during them should be the highest priority.
So, the Lakers will need to go on without him. Jose Calderon should slide into the starting lineup and he will be tested severely, playing one of the toughest positions in the league night to night and doing so as a 35 year old. The Lakers will need to leverage his shooting and try to cover up for his defensive deficiencies, but that’s what coaches are paid for. Some nights they will be successful in this, others not as much. Hopefully it’s more the former than the latter.
It begins tonight in Oakland when Calderon goes up against some guy named Steph Curry. Not ideal for Jose, but he’s a big-boy and a veteran in this league. He knows the drill and will just need to do his best. Hopefully his teammates can pick him up on nights where he’s not doing as well and lean on him when he has it going. That’s what being a good team is about. And while we do not yet know if the Lakers actually are a good team, I think they can be.
This upcoming stretch will tell us more about that. Here’s hoping they can continue to surprise.