Lakers Push Forward Without Young

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

With the news that Nick Young has torn the radial collateral ligament in his right thumb, the Lakers practiced Saturday knowing they will likely be without their projected sixth man for the beginning of the season.

“It hurts us, obviously short-term,” head coach Byron Scott said. “Nick is somebody who we were counting on obviously (to) provide that offense off the bench. So we’re going to have to try to find that elsewhere.

“Feel bad for Nick, obviously, as well. Because, again, he brings a lot of energy and an unbelievable personality to the game. So hopefully we can get him back a little sooner than later, and then we’ll just go from there.”

Young hurt his thumb in practice on Thursday while guarding Kobe Bryant. Young went for a steal and ended up hitting Bryant’s elbow.

However, Young did not realize the severity of his injury until he received the results of his MRI on Friday.

“I was a little shocked,” Young said. “I thought (athletic trainer) Gary (Vitti) was gonna call me and say it’s just a sprain; it’s just a little swollen. But when he called me and told me it was a torn ligament, I was a little hurt.”

Young is scheduled for surgery Monday, though that didn’t stop Scott from having his small forward participate in Saturday’s defensive and conditioning drills.

“As far as I know, when you hurt your hand, your feet are still OK and your legs are, too,” Scott said. “So he can still do all the stuff that we do conditioning-wise that doesn’t have anything to do with a basketball in his hands. So he came out today and he did all those things.

“And there was one drill I think he was sitting on us, I said, ‘No, you can do this, too.’ And he got up and did it.”

According to Scott and Bryant, keeping Young’s conditioning up in the 6-8 weeks of estimated recovery time will be key.

“He hurt his hand; he didn’t hurt his foot,” Bryant said. “It’s simple. To be able to run, do defensive slides, do all the things that you do from a conditioning level, so you don’t lose that. That’s really an important part in these eight weeks that he doesn’t lose all the hard work that he’s put in to get in good condition.”

Scott says that Young’s injury “definitely cuts down the rotation,” while Steve Nash suggested that a committee of players could be the best way to replace Young’s production, which included a team-high 17.9 points per game last season.

“When you have someone like him … you’re not going to be able to just get that from one guy,” Jeremy Lin said. “If you could, he would probably be in the rotation already. So it has to be a few guys stepping in.”

Nash tweaks ankle

Nash himself was dinged up for most of practice after rolling his ankle on Julius Randle’s foot during an “easy run” conditioning drill. Nash said he might partake in Saturday’s evening practice and would be “100 percent for tomorrow.”

“My concern is if I push him out there now, he’ll start to change his gait,” Vitti told NBA TV. “And he’s so fragile right now that if he starts changing his gait, it kinda sends issues up the kinetic chain, and then his back will start bothering him again. Once again, we’re just trying to be smart and err on the side of caution.”

Kelly, Henry on track

Scott also offered updates on injured Lakers Ryan Kelly (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (back). Scott said he is hopeful that Kelly will return to the team by the end of the upcoming week, and that Henry is progressing by the day but still has no timetable for his return.

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