When talking about the young core the Lakers are trying to build — D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — all to often Larry Nance Jr. gets left out of the mix. Although, not by opposing coaches, who when asked about the young Lakers almost always go out of their way to bring Nance up and say they like what they see.
The rookie out of Wyoming has played solid defense, shot reasonably from three (33 percent), played within himself in the system, all of which is why Byron Scott started him when Russell and Randle came off the bench (a debate we got into on the latest PBT Podcast, but I don’t want to go down the Scott rabbit hole here).
But Nance has been battling knee issues, and when those flared up in Milwaukee on Monday limiting him to nine minutes, the Lakers started to think about shutting Nance down for the season to get it right, reports Baxter Holmes at ESPN.
However, Lakers coach Byron Scott said he and the team’s longtime trainer, Gary Vitti, have had discussions about sitting Nance out for the rest of the season to let his knee heal.
No decision has yet been made, Scott said, and for the moment Nance will receive treatment on his knee and be evaluated to play Wednesday against the Grizzlies in Memphis.
“We’ve talked about it, they’ve talked about it, but at the same time, at this point right now, it’s precautionary,” Nance said about being potentially shut down for the rest of the season.
The report says surgery is not required. He missed the six games prior to the All-Star break with pain in the same knee.
If there’s any question, why wouldn’t you shut him down? The Lakers are rebuilding, and Nance can be a rotation player in that future team (or be an asset used to trade down the line, if needed). Why risk anything now, so he can gain a little more experience on a losing team? Get him healthy in time to put in the work this summer on holes in his game, that matters more than a few more minutes now.