The Los Angeles Lakers have reached December and two names remain on their list of injuries: Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn. When the two players were signed in free agency, the team had plans for them to be big parts of both sides of the court. Nunn’s early production on one of the revered organizations in the league, the Miami Heat, was coveted. He played a big role in the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Trevor Ariza was there to provide veteran experience and defensive stability. The length and effort he’s still flexed into these twilight years are a welcomed asset. Ariza had ankle surgery in early October. Today marked the first time he got to mix it up with the team. However, Vogel told reporters that Ariza “still has a ways to go”, dispelling the optimism had for his return being soon.
Trevor Ariza competed in live action and the scrimmage but "still has a ways to go" to get his legs under him. Says he still needs to build strength in the ankle.
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) December 6, 2021
Much of his last three seasons have been abbreviated. He missed the bubble as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Last season was spent away from the Oklahoma City Thunder, until the Miami Heat came calling. Ariza must be itching to play basketball well into, hopefully, a deep playoff run.
Nunn’s news is even less encouraging than Ariza’s news. An ankle injury turned into a bone bruise, which has extended his absence. Coach Frank Vogel gave a big update on expectations for him:
Frank Vogel says Kendrick Nunn will "probably not" play before the end of the year (2021).
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) December 6, 2021
Slowly, but surely, the Lakers are getting closer. There’s been a lot of noise surrounding their struggles, and injuries have been the loudest of those noises. LeBron James has not played in four straight games all season. Their “Big 3” have spent almost less than half the season on the floor together. What’s a coach and team to do about that kind of missed time? It’s for that reason that we probably won’t see Vogel lose his job. It’s also a good thing when considering the ceiling of this team.