Just hours after Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down from his post as the president of basketball operations, the Los Angeles Lakers have made another staffing change.
The Lakers fired head trainer Marco Nuñez on Wednesday morning, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The Lakers fired athletic trainer Marco Nuñez on Weds, sources told ESPN. Nuñez joined LAL as an asst trainer in 08-09 & ascended to the head position in ‘16, succeeding Gary Vitti. LAL players had missed 212 games due to injury in ‘18-19, 9th most in the NBA, per Spotrac
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 10, 2019
Nuñez has been with the organization for a decade, having started as an assistant trainer. He led the training staff for the past three seasons.
It’s easy to see why they made the change, as the Lakers were riddled with injuries this season. According to Spotrac, Lakers players missed 212 appearances due to injury this season, the ninth-most in the league. According to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register, 148 of those appearances came from the top eight leaders in minutes.
LeBron James was the most notable Lakers player to go down with an injury after he strained his groin on Christmas Day. James missed five weeks while recovering, and the team dropped from a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference to ninth place in that time. He played just 55 games all year, a career-low.
Lonzo Ball played in only 47 games after spraining his ankle in January, marking the second-straight year his season was cut short due to injury. Brandon Ingram had surgery to remove a blood clot in March, and played in just 52 games. Rajon Rondo missed 36 games this season, too, dealing with a finger injury early in the season.
Now, it’s not fair to blame Nuñez or the training staff completely for those injuries. Injuries happen in sports all the time, regardless of how great a trainer or training staff is. Many players, including Lance Stephenson, said they liked Nuñez.
“[Nuñez] was doing a great job. He’s been doing a great job,” Stephenson said Wednesday, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “It’s definitely tough because that was my guy. I worked with him a lot. He did an amazing job with me.”
Josh Hart, who had his season cut short due to knee tendinitis, praised the training staff on Wednesday, too.
“I work day-in and day-out with the medical staff, and they’re people who are amazing at their craft,” Hart said, via the Orange County Register. “They take their time out their day, even more so being here early. They’re the ones that sacrifice the most and put the most time in. I guess you can call it an endorsement, but they shouldn’t be knocked or blamed for this because that’s not their fault.”
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