Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. believes he can return before two-week timeline

first_imgLOS ANGELES – The exchange seemed like the perfect pitch for Larry Nance Jr.’s next commercial as part of his recent endorsement deal with a protein drink company.Has it been a significant part in aiding Nance’s recovery from a bone bruise in his left knee?“Yes,” Nance deadpanned. “That’s why I’m moving so fast.”How much the whey protein isolate brand affected Nance’s rehab might be up for debate. Whatever the case, Nance progressed well enough to express optimism he could return before the Lakers expect him to within the next two weeks. According to the Lakers’ timetable, Nance could return for the Jan. 22 game in Dallas. Although Nance would not pinpoint the earliest return date, he recently advanced toward shooting drills after spending the past two weeks completing exercises on a weight-bearing treadmill and in the pool. Nance will then complete contact drills in one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three and full practice sessions.“I have no issues,” Nance said. “I’m as content as can be with the way everything is going and how fast it is progressing.”Nance missed Sunday’s game against Orlando at Staples Center in what marked the ninth game he sat since suffering his knee injury on Dec. 20, 2016 against Charlotte. He respectfully declined to evaluate if he could return in time to spark consideration for the 2017 NBA dunk contest as part of All-Star weekend in New Orleans on Feb. 18.“I haven’t thought about it,” Nance said. “That’s so far out of my consideration right now. I’m just worried about my health.”WEIGHING PRIORITIES The move signaled that the Lakers appreciated steady production from an emerging forward (Thomas Robinson) and mentorship from a fan favorite (Metta World Peace).With the Lakers declining to waive them on Saturday before their one-year contracts would have become guaranteed, the decision also revealed synergy between Coach Luke Walton and the team’s front office with General Manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.Walton said he had “ongoing conversations” with the Lakers’ front office since training camp on why he valued Robinson and World Peace for the entire 2016-17 season.“I don’t think someone we find as a 15th man will bring more to the court than Metta brings us in the locker room and building our culture,” Walton said. “Thomas Robinson, with the way he’s played, he’s worked everyday and stepped up with injuries, he’s earned a spot.”Both players reacted to the news differently. After the former No. 5 pick in the NBA draft had short stops in Sacramento (2012-13), Houston (2012-13), Portland (2013-15), Philadelphia (2014-15) and Brooklyn (2015-16), Robinson said “now I have to scratch the next thing off my list” that he wants to keep private.“It means a lot,” said Robinson, who has averaged 4.1 points on 51.6 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds in 11.9 minutes off the bench. “I appreciate the way [Luke] coaches. I appreciate the way he is. For him to have confidence in me like that, it means everything so far.”Though World Peace has posted career-lows in points (1.1), shooting percentage (22.7 percent) and playing time (5.2 minutes) through 14 appearances, the Lakers have liked how he has mentored his younger teammates with his work habits, practice intensity and willingness to provide advice without becoming overbearing. World Peace offered a new message after downplaying his chance to finish out his 17th NBA season.“I just want to get to the playoffs,” World Peace said. “That’s all I’m focused on. I’m not focused on nothing else.”Still, Walton sounded pleased he and the Lakers’ brass focused on the same thought process.“Obviously the front office makes the final call with what we’re going to do,” Walton said. “But I was obviously happy to see we’re all on the same page with that.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more