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This past summer, after the Los Angeles Lakers surrendered much of their depth to add flashy, past-his-prime point guard Russell Westbrook and his $44.2 million contract, the team had to scramble to add useful role players around its new Big Three.

Los Angeles added nine players on veteran minimum contracts. Another new face, rookie Austin Reaves, will likely see his $925K deal (converted from a two-way contract) guaranteed on January 10th. 

Two young players (incidentally both alums of Derrick Rose's alma matter, Simeon High School in Chicago) who with some upside were signed to deals greater than the veteran's minimum. One, then-20-year-old shooting guard Talen Horton-Tucker, was homegrown, with plenty of promise but not a lot of on-court productivity just yet. LA signed him to a three-year, $30.8 million fully-guaranteed salary. The other was former Heat guard Kendrick Nunn, who inked a two-season, $10.25 million deal, with the second year (worth $5.25 million) a player option.

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The 6'2" Nunn, 26, made the 2019-20 All-Rookie First Team after going undrafted out of Oakland University in 2018 (he spent most of the 2018-19 season in the NBA G League). Injuries and defensive shortcomings ultimately limited his efficacy for Miami's 2020 Finals run, and he saw his role slightly diminished with the Heat during the 2020-21 season. The now-third-year player owns career averages of 15.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.9 steals a game across 29.4 minutes. He holds a career shooting line of 45.8% from the field, 36.4% from long range (on 5.8 attempts), and 88.1% from the charity stripe.

Nunn initially missed the end of the Lakers' winless preseason due to a right ankle sprain. His bad luck was compounded when the Lakers discovered a bone bruise in his right knee before the start of the regular season. As of this writing, he has yet to partake in a game that actually counts for the purple and gold.

In the latest episode of his ESPN podcast The Lowe Post, Zach Lowe and Dave McMenamin revealed some distressing news about Nunn's road to recovery.

“Now, on the Nunn front, I’m told it’s not close, now progressing in the right direction,” McMenamin said. “I’ve heard the same, not close,” Lowe echoed. McMenamin suggested that “there’s a feeling within the team that a combination of Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker and Nunn can give them this dynamic playmaker kind of second look that they didn’t have on either of last two season’s teams, but they haven’t been able to put that team into fruition yet.”

Nunn has already missed the 12-11 Lakers' first 23 contests. McMenamin and Lowe are right, the team's bench could certainly benefit from his passing (and his shooting). Nunn is the fifth-priciest player on the LA roster for a reason. Time will tell when we witness team president Rob Pelinka (and shadow GM LeBron James)'s offseason vision for his reshaped club.