Los Angeles Lakers News: Key Injury Will Alter Team’s Plans For Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to make the quick turnaround from Western Conference bottom-dweller to title contender, but an injury to a key veteran may change plans a bit.

This week, guard Nick Young suffered a thumb injury in practice while guarding Kobe Bryant, one that required surgery and will keep him out through the start of the season.

“I didn’t see it,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said Friday, before the severity of the injury was known. “He said he tried to swipe at the ball when he was guarding Kobe and his thumb got caught and it swelled up on him.”

The Lakers released a statement on Young’s injury, noting that tests showed the injury was worse than expected.

“Lakers guard Nick Young, who injured his right thumb yesterday in practice, underwent an MRI exam today. Results of the MRI showed that Young has a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament. Dr. Steven Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic will perform surgery on Young’s thumb on Monday, and an estimate for Young’s return will be given at that time.”

Young’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN that Young will be out six to eight weeks as he recovers from the injury. It will be a difficult loss for the Lakers. With a Western Conference stacked with title contenders, the Los Angeles Lakers can’t afford a slow start. Young had career highs of 17.9 points and 1.5 assists per game last season, and was set to play an even bigger role this year.

The Lakers had planned to conserve Kobe Bryant this season, saving his energy for the stretch run, but Young’s injury will mean a greater burden on Bryant and newcomer Jeremy Lin, who is expected to see a major role. Kobe has always been up for it in the past, and the Lakers will have to hope he is again.