World Peace to Start In Place of Injured Deng
Metta World Peace will be the one filling the hole in the Lakers' starting lineup, as small forward Luol Deng will sit out Friday night's preseason game against Denver due to a bruised left knee.
Deng suffered his injury when he bumped knees with Anthony Brown during Thursday's practice, and head coach Luke Walton said that there is no timetable for his return yet.
“Obviously with someone like him who’s been around this long, we’re not gonna rush him,” Walton said before Friday's game. “When he and the trainers say he’s ready to go (he will). He’s a professional. He’s not going to milk it to get out of the preseason.”
World Peace was the final player signed to the Lakers' training camp roster and he figures to have a steep climb to making the regular-season team. But Walton was impressed by the 16-year veteran's physical shape and ability to teach young players.
“He’s a specimen,” Walton said. “He still just gets after it on defense, making his shots.”
Walton was also pleased by the way World Peace — his former Lakers teammate — responded when told that he wasn't going to play in Tuesday's preseason opener. The 36-year-old thanked Walton for letting him know in advance so he could get in extra work during pregame warmups.
The head coach also "absolutely" considered starting No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram on Friday, but he wanted to see if Ingram and the rest of the second unit could perform as well as they did together when they rallied the Lakers past Sacramento on Tuesday.
“He’s played well enough to get that spot,” Walton said. “But, again, in the second game I wanted to see what that (second) unit looked like. Right now, nothing’s set in stone. We’re just messing with lineups still.”
The rest of the starting lineup — D'Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov — will remain intact.
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