Calderon out as Lakers’ guard woes continue
The Lakers will lack yet another guard on Monday against the Utah Jazz.
Jose Calderon was declared out for the game after straining his right hamstring on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Calderon is the third Lakers guard to suffer an injury that will result in missed games. The Lakers will not have starting point guard D’Angelo Russell or starting shooting guard Nick Young, either. Larry Nance Jr., who suffered a right-knee contusion on Friday against the Toronto Raptors, is questionable. Nance missed the Lakers game on Saturday.
Russell has missed nine games because of an injury to his left knee. The second-year player has dealt with soreness to the knee dating back to last season. After attempting to play through the injury, he had a platelet-rich plasma injection on Nov. 23 and has since been rehabbing the injury.
The injury was expected to sideline Russell for at least two weeks. Russell, who began doing light cardio pool exercises, will be reevaluated early this week and could begin doing on-court activity if his progress continues as it has.
Young suffered a strained right calf muscle at the start of the Lakers’ last road trip. Against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, Young tried to jump and felt a sharp pain in his leg. While he initially thought the injury was some degree of a tear to his Achilles’ tendon, an MRI showed that to not be the case.
The Lakers initially put Young in a walking boot. He was able to remove the boot by Saturday as he no longer felt pain when he walked on it. Young has missed three games because of the injury, which was expected to keep him out for two to four weeks.
Calderon’s injury complicates things further for the Lakers at guard. Backup guard Jordan Clarkson entered the game for Calderon on Saturday, but Lakers Coach Luke Walton could try a different lineup.
Marcelo Huertas could start at point guard, and versatile guard Lou Williams could fit that role, too, even though he is a more natural shooting guard. Williams scored 40 points on Saturday in the Lakers’ 103-100 loss to the Grizzlies.
During the preseason, the Lakers used Williams as their starting shooting guard. During the regular season he has served as a critical part of the Lakers’ talented second unit. He leads the league in scoring from a second unit.
The five-man group that comes off the bench, to which Walton has been so committed when he can be, includes Williams, Nance, Brandon Ingram, center Tarik Black and Clarkson.
Keeping that second unit together was part of why Calderon started in place of Russell. It was why Walton used Thomas Robinson at starting forward when Julius Randle was unavailable because of a hip-pointer injury. And it’s why rookie Ivica Zubac, currently on a developmental-league assignment, started for center Timofey Mozgov last month.
Even when he’s borrowed from the second unit, he’s tried to keep it intact.
Ingram has started in place of Young for the past three games, but each time, Walton substituted Ingram out early so he could bring him back once the rest of the second unit entered. Consequently, Ingram played 41 minutes, 35 minutes and 39 minutes in those games. Ingram had a career high 17 points against the Raptors and a career high three blocks against the Grizzlies.
Until now it’s taken creativity to keep that group together. But with the possibility of not having Nance, and with three guards definitely out, the Lakers’ dynamic second five is likely to have to wait to reunite.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Staples Center
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 10-12; Jazz 12-9
Record vs. Jazz: 0-1
Update: Often when Walton talks about the team’s injuries, he notes that working through injuries is just part of life in the NBA. The Utah Jazz might agree. They’ve missed multiple starters in nine games this season. Nonetheless, the Jazz have won five of their last six games, the only loss coming to the Miami Heat on Thursday. They come to Staples Center after a three-game homestand.
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