Lakers News: Latest on D'Angelo Russell Injury, Team Avoiding Trump Hotel

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before the game against the Chicago Bulls on November 20, 2016 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

After a solid start to the 2016-17 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t just cooled off.

They’ve frozen.

Losers of seven straight, the 10-17 Lakers and 36-year-old head coach Luke Walton will enter Wednesday night’s winnable contest with the Brooklyn Nets looking to get back on track.

“The reaction to losing is something Walton monitors,” Tania Ganguli wrote for the Los Angeles Times after the team’s loss to the New York Knicks. “He said the danger lies in two places. A team can become OK with losing. Or players might start trying to fix the issues by themselves. He said he hasn’t seen that happening yet.”

Here are two updates to keep in mind as Walton matches wits with another first-year head coach, Kenny Atkinson.

     

D'Angelo Russell's minutes could increase

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Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

After averaging 16.8 points, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 42.3 percent from the field in his first 12 games of the year, second-year point guard D'Angelo Russell missed three weeks with a knee injury.

On Nov. 23, Russell received a platelet-rich plasma injection:

The Lakers went 3-9 without him. On Sunday, Russell returned to the starting lineup but played just 16 minutes and shot 1-of-8 from the field in a 118-112 loss to the Knicks. He turned the ball over four times.

A day later, the 20-year-old saw an uptick in minutes and looked more like his normal, sweet-shooting self. In just less than 20 minutes (19:43), Russell went 6-of-10 for 17 points and four assists. The Sacramento Kings blew out Los Angeles 116-92, and Russell was the only Laker with a positive plus/minus (plus-five).

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 12:  D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles past Darren Collison #7 of the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on December 12, 2016 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

According to the Los Angeles Times, the southpaw—as well as shooting guard Nick Young, who is recovering from a calf injury—wanted to play more. That's a positive sign for L.A.

While Walton didn’t give a specific number heading into Wednesday, Serena Winters of Lakers Nation reported that Russell expects to have his playing time capped for a few games:

Per Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell, Russell isn’t thinking about his left knee while he's on the floor:

Assuming Russell has experienced no setbacks since L.A. fell to the Kings, Wednesday’s game in Brooklyn could offer the most minutes he’s seen since the injury. While his pre-injury average of 27.1 minutes might be a bit lofty, somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 seems reasonable.

     

Team not staying in Trump hotel

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Golden State Warriors in the first half of their NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on November 23, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

According to Mark Medina of the Orange County Register, the Lakers will not stay in a hotel affiliated with President-elect Donald Trump prior to Wednesday's game against the Nets, as originally planned.

The reasons are not political, per Medina:

[T]he Lakers said the reasons have nothing to do with any political statement surrounding the president-elect. The Lakers cited security concerns for the team amid potential protests near the hotel.

Since Trump was elected, there have been several demonstrations near his various branded hotels in New York City both from his supporters and those protesting the election result.

The initial plan was to stay in Trump SoHo in Lower Manhattan. Medina added that “potential protests also could have disrupted the Lakers' efforts in traveling to and from the Barclays Center for Wednesday's game.”

The Lakers made it clear this is not intended to be a political statement. Conversely, LeBron James and several other Cleveland Cavaliers boycotted Trump SoHo for political reasons prior to beating up on the Knicks last week.

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