We know (the entire NBA knows, really) what is happening with Lakers star LeBron James’ abdominal injury—he is out for at least a week, perhaps a bit longer. We have some idea what’s happening with Anthony Davis’ thumb injury. He will test it out tomorrow before the Lakers square off against the Trail Blazers.
But what we don’t yet know is when we might see two other potentially important Lakers: Kendrick Nunn and Talent Horton-Tucker, two players who could bolster a Lakers backcourt struggling with ball movement and defense. Frank Vogel gave a bummer of an answer when asked about it.
“I’m still not to where I’m close to feeling like they’re back,” Vogel said in his Friday meeting with the media. “You know THT is making progress. I believe, yesterday, he started shooting the ball with the hand that’s been injured. So, that’s a positive step, it’s getting closer but not to where I’m thinking about having him in games.”
The two are nearing their possible return dates, or, at least, their re-evaluation dates. Nunn suffered a bone bruise on October 21 and was to be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks, according to the team. It’s been 15 days. Horton-Tucker had surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb on October 12, and was to be re-evaluated in four weeks. It’s been 24 days on that front.
It might make sense to think both should be back in short order. Coach Frank Vogel, though, expressed doubt about that, dousing some hope Lakers fans have of weathering the LeBron-less storm.
Nothing New on Anthony Davis’ Thumb
Vogel offered no further input on Nunn. He did offer a terse update on the thumb injury suffered by Anthony Davis, or more accurately, he stated that he had no update. “Still sprained thumb, questionable for tomorrow,” Vogel said. “No update past that.”
The Lakers have a crowded rotation, and it is unclear how Nunn and Horton-Tucker would fit in when they are healthy. Nunn has the advantage of being a very good secondary ballhandler, which the Lakers need. THT is a jack-of-all-trades, but since we have not seen him in the rotation to this point, there’s no way to tell which trade he will be asked to employ this season.
In their absence, Vogel gave minutes in Thursday’s crushing loss to the Thunder, in which the Lakers blew a 19-point lead at home, to Rajon Rondo and Austin Reaves. Those two likely will not play much once Nunn and THT are healthy.
Vogel Welcomes ‘Edgy’ Lakers Players
Vogel also addressed the fact that, after Thursday’s loss, the players seemed especially testy. Russell Westbrook had a snap-back answer to one reporter’s question, and Carmelo Anthony, who had gotten into a tussle with OKC’s Lu Dort late in the game, told one reporter, “What do you want us to do? We can’t fold.”
Vogel had no problem with his players being annoyed. As he said:
We do have high expectations. We’re gonna be a little edgy when we lose. I hope we’re edgy when we lose. And the film today and the work on the court today was really about growth—failure is just fertilizer for growth. That’s the mindset that you have to have. If you play the way we’re playing and you win by one, maybe you’re not as focused or locked in on correcting things or improving. So just take the silver lining in it. We had a good film session, a positive, productive—everybody is looking to get things right and really focus in on the details more than we are focusing in on. Obviously just identifying some things that are hurting us on both sides of the ball. Teach, correct and grow.