The Los Angeles Lakers Are Finally Inching Closer to Seeing Kendrick Nunn, Their Biggest Free-Agent Acquisition, Back on the Court

The Los Angeles Lakers spent the entire offseason rebuilding their roster back into championship form. So far, the team has barely looked playoff-caliber.

At 19-19, LA needs all the help it can get from its roster full of fresh faces. Most of the new players are falling short of expectations, while others have made no impact at all. Kendrick Nunn falls into the latter camp as the third-year guard has yet to make his season debut. However, there is finally a sign of optimism for Nunn to come in and help jumpstart the disappointing Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been the definition of mediocrity

Let’s get this out of the way early.

LeBron James has been exceptional, vaulting himself into the MVP conversation at 37 years old. However, even the King can’t get the Lakers to look like a title contender.

Almost halfway through the season, the Lakers have never won more than three games in a row. Yet they’ve had a losing streak of five games, the bulk of which came during James’ seven-game 30-point streak. Statistically, they’re a middle-of-the-pack bunch. Given their disappointing offense and average defense, the Purple and Gold’s -0.9 net rating places them 20th in the NBA.

On top of the pedestrian play, injuries have kept LA from reaching its full potential. James has missed 10 games due to ankle and abdomen injuries (12 total), while Davis will miss his 12th game Tuesday night as he recovers from a knee sprain. In total, only Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, and Avery Bradley have played 30 or more games in 2021-22, with the first two playing in all 38.

Frank Vogel gives good news on Kendrick Nunn

Nunn has watched LA’s up-and-down season from the bench after suffering a bone bruise in his knee during the preseason. A bone bruise is a notoriously tricky injury to place a recovery timeline on, which explains why Nunn’s original two-to-three-week diagnosis was so far off.

However, there is hope for the 26-year-old guard to make his debut soon. According to Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, Nunn is ramping up his on-court activities more than he has since the initial injury occurred in October.

“He’s making progress. He’s doing more and more on the court,” Vogel told the Los Angeles Times. “I just talked to one of our assistant coaches about the work he did today. And he definitely looks like he’s getting closer to where we need him. Still don’t have a timetable on it, other than to say he’s getting close.”

On a team with three guys earning $35 million or more this season, Nunn is one of the higher-paid role players. The 6-foot-2 guard inked a two-year, $10.25 million deal with the Lakers, the largest contract they handed out to an unrestricted free agent. Given his $5 million cap hit this season, only Westbrook, James, Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker are making more.

“We love what his game is,” Vogel continued. “Shoot the three, to play-make in the pick-and-roll game, and also to be a second side attacker when you have Bron, Russ, and AD with the basketball. So, he’s a talented young man and someone we really think can help us.”

Nunn might not be the only addition the Los Angeles Lakers have in the coming weeks

Nunn has the chance to be a real impact player for LA. The 2020 Rookie of the Year finalist is a career 15.0-point-per-game scorer who could give the Lakers some much-needed depth.

However, if and when Nunn comes back, he might not be the only new addition the Lakers have on their roster.

With time running out to turn things around, the Lakers are expected to be aggressive in the trade market. Reports came out about a Ben Simmons-for-Russell Westbrook trade that was shot down by the Philadelphia 76ers. In addition, LA is said to have interest in Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. On a smaller scale, the Lakers could pursue role players like the Orlando Magic’s Terrence Ross.

It’s worth pointing out that if the Lakers make a trade and take on additional salaries, they would likely have to send players with salaries to match. Assuming LA can’t find a taker for Westbrook, that makes Nunn and Horton-Tucker two viable candidates to be included in a deal.

In the meantime, Nunn will continue to work his way back to full health in order to join the Lakers. But don’t be surprised to hear his name floating around in trade rumors over the next few weeks.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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