Los Angeles Lakers could be without key players for opening night
We already knew that Talen Horton-Tucker (out at least four weeks following thumb surgery) and Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery, out two months) would miss the Los Angeles Lakers season opener vs. the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday at Staples Center. However, the availability of three other key wings — Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, and Wayne Ellington — is up in the air, as well.
Monk, who had been the Lakers’ most impressive player through the first three preseason games, is dealing with a groin strain he suffered on Oct. 10 vs. the Phoenix Suns. The team announced that Monk would miss at least one week — including the remainder of the preseason — but remained hopeful he would be ready for opening night. (The Lakers wrap their preseason on Thursday at the Sacramento Kings.)
On Wednesday, Vogel said he remains “hopeful that” Nunn and Monk can play in Game 1. Monk was spotted doing some movement drills at practice.
Positive for the Lakers: Malik Monk moving around as practice wraps up. He’s missed the last two games with a groin strain. pic.twitter.com/88FWFkI0om
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) October 13, 2021
Now, the bad news:
Ellington — perhaps the favorite to begin the season as the Lakers’ starting shooting guard — was forced to sit out Tuesday’s affair due to hamstring tightness.
Before the game, Vogel said Ellington could have probably played in a regular-season matchup, but the team was being extra-cautious. However, on Wednesday, Vogel revealed that an MRI confirmed Ellington has a Grade 1 hamstring strain, putting his opening night in jeopardy.
“Wayne, actually, his MRI revealed a strain in his hamstring as well,” Vogel said. “Grade 1, still will be re-evaluated in a week. It’s still possible to dress Opening Night but he could potentially not be in there. We’ll have to see all three of those guys progress over the next week.”
Considering the fragility of hamstring issues, it’s fair to wonder when we’ll see Ellington make his regular-season debut.
Frankly, it seems highly unlikely that Wayne Ellington will be ready in a week. Hamstrings are incredibly fragile, and even Grade 1 strains are generally multiple-week injuries. https://t.co/tjMZD8fZdW https://t.co/O7KKUAOHko
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) October 13, 2021
None of these injuries seem overly concerning in the long run, but remember: the Lakers were also initially casual about the severity of Ariza’s ankle problem at the start of camp, only to learn that it required surgery.
Never fear: Austin Reaves is here.