The Los Angeles Lakers invested a lot of money in big man Timofey Mozgov this summer. In one of the first free agency deals to be agreed to after the floodgates opened this summer, Mozgov and the Lakers came to terms on a four-year, $64 million contract to bring the Russian center from the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers to Los Angeles. It was a move that was immediately questioned because Mozgov had a pretty bad season individually.
However, the Buss family and Mitch Kupchak believe he'll bounce back with a more consistent role for the Lakers. They just have to make sure he's healthy. During a friendly match between Russia and Ukraine this past week, Mozgov suffered a groin injury which will keep him out for a couple of games, at least. Mozgov had an MRI over the weekend and is expected to be re-evaluated this week. From the Lakers:
New Lakers center Timofey Mozgov injured his groin while playing for the Russian national team in an international friendly against Ukraine on Friday.
After undergoing an MRI on Saturday, Mozgov will miss Russia's next two games at its international tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, and be re-evaluated sometime mid-next week, per Lakers spokesman John Black.
With the season just around the corner, it would make sense for the Lakers to end Mozgov's play with his Russian team this summer regardless of whether or not the injury is healed or not. Since they pay him professionally, they have the authority to keep him out of international play if there is an existing injury or the player suffers an injury. Since his groin is now causing him problems, there is no upside to the Lakers allowing him to play should there be another opportunity.
It doesn't sound like they've made that decision to keep him out just quite yet, but it's something that should be heavily considered. You can't risk having a poor start due to a nagging injury with Mozgov. Even if this Lakers team isn't going to be very good, you've got to protect the investment.