MILWAUKEE — The strong conviction in Larry Nance Jr.’s voice remained. He had played only nine minutes and 34 seconds in the Lakers’ 108-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center because of continued soreness in his right knee. But Nance maintained he “absolutely” could play in Wednesday’s game in Memphis.
The Lakers do not feel as confident. Lakers coach Byron Scott said he and head athletic trainer Gary Vitti had initial discussions about shutting down Nance for the remaining 24 games.
“I told him what I think. He told me what he thinks,” Scott said without sharing specifics. “That’s what he does. I’m going to go by what he thinks right now. We’ll do the treatment and see what happens on Wednesday.”
Nance already had sat out for 10 games in the past month amid fluctuating complications in his knee. He sat out for four games after lasting only three minutes on Jan. 16 against Utah. Nance returned for three games before the Lakers shut him down for six games leading into the NBA All-Star break.
“We’ve talked about it. They’ve talked about it,” Nance said about sitting down. “But at this point right now, it’s precautionary.”
The latest news dampens an otherwise promising rookie season. He has averaged 5.7 points on 54.2 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds per game, thanks to consistent energy and an emerging jump shot.
But Nance has struggled overcoming an injury that he said partly traces to tearing a ligament in his right knee during his junior year at University of Wyoming. Nance said he would “absolutely not” need offseason surgery. Instead, Nance will plan on strengthening his knee to prevent further damage.
“It’s a long winded answer,” Nance said about fixing his knee. “At the beginning of next year, this will be in the rear view mirror.”