While the result of the Lakers 2nd preseason game was a loss, the bigger news wasn’t the final score, but instead the health status of several players. At today’s media availability, Luke Walton provided everyone with Lakers injury updates not only from the game itself, but of players who’d been sitting out of practices recently.
First, Lonzo Ball did not practice after suffering a mild sprain of his left ankle vs. the Nuggets. He will be reevaluated tomorrow and Luke noted the doctor’s will determine (this was a running theme) whether Lonzo is available or not to play. For what it’s worth, after Monday’s game, Lonzo said he’d play if he was able, implying pretty strongly that unless he was absolutely ruled out he’d be in the lineup. Again, though, that’s the doctor’s call.
Joining Lonzo on the sidelines today was Larry Nance, Jr. (sprained right index finger) and Brandon Ingram (bumped heads with a Nuggets player). Nance did do some strength training, however. Neither player is expected to miss any time, but again, that’s the doctor’s call, not Walton’s.
On the good news front, the Lakers did get some players back today.
On the other hand, Walton said Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Josh Hart all practiced in full today. First time that’s happened…
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 3, 2017
Lopez’s return is obviously the big news there, but having Bogut and Hart also practice fully should not be dismissed.
Bogut’s presence adds another C to an already crowded big man rotation, which will bare watching as Walton tries to sort out how many of his giant trees get burn. Hart needs some court time to see what he can do in a backcourt rotation which is getting more solidified every time Tyler Ennis shows he can be a viable backup PG. I don’t expect Hart to show he should get regular season minutes, but him actually being healthy enough to get after it in practice is a necessary first step.
Getting back to Lopez, the news isn’t all good. Luke was very clear in pointing out that while Lopez is fully cleared for contact, that does not necessarily mean he’s ready to play in a game. In fact, Walton strongly implied Lopez would not play Wednesday when the team battles the Nuggets (again), instead wanting more feedback from the doctors that Lopez is 100%.
Walton, in essence, said that he wants to make sure when Lopez does return they get to keep him on the court for a while. Back issues — even spasms — are tricky and the last thing Walton wants is for Lopez to find his way back to the sidelines by re-aggravating it.
When specifically asked about whether Lopez missing this much time and whether that would impact on-court chemistry, Walton said Lopez ran with the 1st unit today and that he’s been doing practice work for a few days already. Building on that, Walton said he believes the team will have enough practice time to get in reps and that when Lopez is cleared they’ll then get actual game work in together. Lopez is targeting Saturday for that return to action, but we’ll see if the doctors agree with him.
We will keep you posted as we get more updates on the injury status of Ball, Ingram, and Nance.