Lakers guard Wayne Ellington will miss the team’s eight remaining regular season games after an MRI exam taken on Thursday showed a grade 1 separated right shoulder.
Ellington’s injury stemmed from taking a collision in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ 111-92 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday at Staples Center.
“I saw him this morning before he went over. He said it was really sore,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said after Thursday’s practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo.
The Lakers already have long-term or season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (right shoulder), Steve Nash (back), Julius Randle (right leg), Xavier Henry (left Achilles tendon), Ronnie Price (right elbow) and Nick Young (left knee). Because of that, the Lakers applied for another hardship exception to the NBA. That tool, if granted, would give the Lakers’ flexibility to increase their roster size to 16 since four players are out with injury.
The Lakers recently signed guard Jabari Brown to a pair of 10-day contracts via a hardship exception. They then waived the recently retired Nash so the Lakers could sign Brown for the rest of the season to keep the roster at the league-maximum 15 players.
“We got three guards, that’s enough,” Scott said before adding he would talk with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak “about some things, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Ellington only missed six other games this season during a team-granted leave of absence after his father was murdered in his hometown of Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 2014. Yet, Ellington has fulfilled different roles both as a backup shooting guard and the team’s primary starter following Bryant’s season-ending injury two months ago. Ellington averaged 10 points on a 41.2 percent clip, which nearly mirrors the career-high he set with Scott’s Cleveland Cavaliers team during the 2012-13 season.
Scott said Ellington “exceeded” his expectations after also showing improvement, evolving as primarily a catch-and-shoot scorer to one who can create his own shot.
“He’s gotten so much better at doing that,” Scott said. “He did a much better job this year than I expected, but I really shouldn’t be that surprised because I know what type of kid he is and I know what type of work ethic he has.”
Ellington will become an unrestricted free agent in July. Though plenty of the Lakers’ rebuilding hinges on the NBA draft and pursuing marquee free agents, Scott has said the Lakers’ front office would “absolutely” consider re-signing Ellington.
“I think with Wayne, it doesn’t matter if you play him 30 minutes one night and you don’t play him at all the next night,” Scott said. “He’s still the same person.”