Not so Rad

Not much to add to the story other than the fact that Vladimir Radmanovic’s separated shoulder is pretty serious. Lakers spokesman John Black said Kobe Bryant suffered a similar injury a couple of seasons ago but made it back after missing just nine days and six games because he is such a fast healer. Radmanovic’s injury will cost him eight weeks and was of a more serious degree, Black said, although he probably won’t require surgery.

By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

The Lakers couldnt even make it out of the All-Star break unscathed as forward Vladimir Radmanovic suffered a separated right shoulder when he fell on a patch of ice in Park City, Utah, on Saturday.

Radmanovic, who was starting in place of the injured Luke Walton, is expected to miss approximately eight weeks, a timetable that would cost him more than 25 games and keep him out until the final week of the regular season.

He returned to Los Angeles on Sunday where he was examined by team doctors. Radmanovic underwent an MRI and CT scan Monday that confirmed the separated shoulder, the team said.

The timing couldnt be worse for the Lakers, who already were without two injured starters in Walton and Kwame Brown, and need a victory Wednesday against Portland to avoid the first six-game losing streak of Phil Jacksons coaching career.

“It seems like weve had at least our fair share (of injuries), Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “Its something that all teams go through. Maybe weve had a little bit of an extra dose. But theres nothing you can do about it. Its part of the equation.

The Lakers are hopeful that Walton will be able to return from his sprained right ankle in the coming week, with team spokesman John Black saying Walton made “slight progress this weekend and might try to practice today as the team reconvenes.

Whether Radmanovics injury emboldens the Lakers to make a move before Thursdays trading deadline remains to be seen.

“It doesnt really affect a whole lot, Kupchak said. “I think of more concern right now is where we are with Luke because he was close to returning before the break. With Luke back, I think were versatile enough to make it through the end of the season.

Kupchak said he wouldnt look to add a forward, but said of the overall picture: “Does it increase the urgency as far as making a deal? I dont know. We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do if we can do it.

For the time being, the Lakers face a decision about starting Brian Cook or Maurice Evans in Radmanovics place. The injury also derails what already had been a disappointing season for the Lakers major free-agent acquisition.

Radmanovic, who signed a five-year, $30.2 million contract in July, was averaging just 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting a career-worst 33.9 percent from 3-point range.

He suffered an injury to his shooting hand during the preseason and watched Walton take the starting job originally earmarked for him. Then in December, Radmanovic was dubbed a “space cadet by Jackson for his difficulties in learning the triangle offense.

He found himself out of the rotation altogether after Lamar Odom returned after missing 21 games with a sprained knee ligament. But Walton was injured just when the Lakers welcomed back Odom and Radmanovic went from sitting to starting.

Although he scored in double figures in five consecutive games, Radmanovics play regressed and Jacksons patience ran out on the Lakers eight-game road trip. He stayed in the starting five after the team came home, but Jackson opted not to play him in the fourth quarter of games.

All told, the Lakers have lost key players to 119 games with injuries. Center Chris Mihm has not played this season after undergoing ankle surgery, Brown has missed 23 games with a severe ankle sprain and Walton has sat out the last 11 games.