Luke Walton: Lakers ‘Need’ Josh Hart Playing Since He Isn’t At Risk Of Making Knee Injury Worse
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With a rash of injuries throughout the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are limping toward a sixth consecutive year in which they will miss the NBA Playoffs. It’s not a position many expected after the signing of LeBron James to a four-year contract on the first day of 2018 free agency.

On top of facing the challenge of developing chemistry with a new roster, the Lakers have dealt with instability in their lineup and rotations. When healthy, the team was beginning to gel and just 2.5 games back of first place in the Western Conference after routing the Golden State Warriors.

But that Christmas Day game also marked a turn for worst. James suffered a strained groin and Rajon Rondo tore a ligament in his right ring finger, which required surgery.

Along with James and Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Tyson Chandler, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee (pneumonia) and Lance Stephenson have all missed time. Ball and Ingram have been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Hart has made a decision to play through knee tendinitis, which Lakers head coach Luke Walton said the team needs and is willing to allow Hart to do as he isn’t at risk of making his condition worse, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:

“He wants to compete. He’s not at risk, from what I’ve been told, of injuring himself any worse. If he were, then that’d be a different conversation. Playing through pain is something that everyone in the NBA does. He needs to continue to get better, we need to continue to have him on the court, and if he can play, we’ve got to play him.”

After missing two of three games and being limited to just eight minutes in the contest he did appear in, Hart received a PRP injection in his balky right knee. That then required him to miss the final game before the All-Star break.

Hart has remained on the court since that point, but revealed there was more to his injury than just tendinitis. He didn’t provide specifics but suggested a decision on course of action would come at the conclusion of the season.

After a promising rookie campaign, Hart’s effectiveness and shooting have plummeted because of the tendinitis. Though, he’s refused to use that as an excuse for uneven performances.