Kendrick Nunn is inching closer to his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers and Frank Vogel has a clear plan for the 26-year-old guard when he gets back on the court.
Nunn signed with the Lakers this offseason but has yet to play in a regular-season game due to a bone bruise in his knee. Vogel said Nunn is getting closer to a return, although there is still not a concrete timetable.
“We’ve got to throw him into the mix and see what he looks like in our system before we can make any real determinations of what his role is going to be,” Vogel said. “But we love what his game is. To shoot the three, to playmaker in the pick-and-roll game, and also to be a second-side attacker when you’ve got Bron, Russ and AD with the basketball. He’s a talented young man, and somebody we really think can help us.”
Nunn averaged 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 67 starts with the Heat during his rookie season, landing on the All-Rookie team and finishing runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. Last season he averaged 14.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Nunn Will Get a ‘Ton of Minutes’ After Return
When Nunn does return, the Lakers are going to run him hard, wanting to see how he meshes with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and — if he’s healthy — Anthony Davis.
“I have an idea, but it still really is all to still be played out,” Vogel said. “Kendrick is going to get a ton of minutes when he gets back healthy. It’s going to be at the expense of somebody else, at least for the time being, to see how he fits in our system alongside our stars, and all that stuff will play out. So I have a general idea, but all of that is still to be determined.”
The Lakers used their mid-level exception to sign Nunn this offseason, hoping he could bulk up the guard rotation. As for someone who could see their minutes decrease, Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk are prime candidates.
Lakers Bring Back Stanley Johnson on 10-Day Deal
The Lakers brought back forward Stanley Johnson on a 10-day deal on Wednesday following his 10-day hardship exemption running out.
Johnson — a former top 10 pick — played more than 25 minutes per game during his short initial stint with the Lakers. He averaged 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and a steal per game, impressing with his defensive prowess.
“He’s playing small-ball center, and sometimes that unlocks some things with certain players,” Vogel said. “I think he’s shown us a lot and shown us that could be a positional shift for him that could help his career.”
While Johnson has been solid and drew praise from his head coach, roster flexibility is the name of the game at this point in the season, so the Lakers are taking a cautious approach. If he continues to thrive in the Lakers system, he’ll have the inside track on earning a permanent spot in LA.