The Los Angeles Lakers expect Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn to be major contributors to their pursuit of an 18th NBA championship. Ariza was Russell Westbrook’s first call after Russ was traded to Los Angeles and was pegged as an opening day starter. Nunn, who averaged 15.0 points per game over his first two seasons, was the Lakers’ only free-agent signing besides Talen Horton-Tucker to earn more than a minimum contract.

Yet, nearly two months into the 2021-22 NBA season, neither has suited up. Fortunately for Lakers fans — and the coaching staff and front office, who are still evaluating the roster — both players could make their debuts sooner rather than later, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“The Lakers are hopeful forward Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) will return within the next one-to-two weeks and are hopeful guard Kendrick Nunn (bone bruise, knee) will return in January, sources said. Both players were expected to have important, potential starting roles for the Lakers this season, but have yet to play as they rehab toward full recovery,” Shams writes.

For the most part, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has kept things vague when discussing the status of both players. Ariza, whose ankle soreness on Day 1 of training camp ended up requiring surgery, was initially given an eight-week timeline before he would be re-evaluated. That window closed in the first week of December.

Since then, Ariza has been increasingly ramping up activity. He has been active in pre-game warmups all month. Last week, Vogel revealed that Ariza participated in the non-contact portion of Lakers practice. He’s scrimmaged with his teammates since. On Monday, Ariza is expected to join the G-League South Bay Lakers for practice.

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The Lakers desperately need a defensive-minded stretch-4 who can guard multiple positions, and they’re holding out hope that the 36-year old still has enough juice to be an impact player and instrumental glue guy.

Nunn’s status has been more opaque. After missing a few preseason games with a sprained right ankle, an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his knee. Vogel has given almost no indication about when he may return, typically calling him “a ways away.” Last Monday, Vogel said Nunn would likely remain out until the New Year.