Taurean Prince being out vs 76ers forces Darvin Ham to make welcomed change

Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are back at home after a three-day layoff on Friday to host the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers. Both the Lakers and 76ers need to start stringing together wins, making Friday night's game more important than the typical March NBA game.

Both teams are dealing with a laundry list of injuries this season and the Lakers have added to that list for Friday's matchup. Forward Taurean Prince has officially been ruled out for personal reasons on Friday night. It is worth mentioning that it is Prince's 30th birthday.

Prince has not been great for the Lakers this season but that has not stopped head coach Darvin Ham from giving him ample playing time. Ham had a previous relationship with Prince from their time in Atlanta together and that has bled into their relationship in Los Angeles. After all, Ham has been known to exercise favoritism in the past.

Typically, losing a rotation player who averages over 25 minutes per game is a big deal for a team, especially with all the other injuries the Lakers are dealing with. However, in this instance, Prince being out will force Ham to do something that he should have been doing all season.

Taurean Prince being out for Lakers will force Darvin Ham to play Max Christie

Max Christie was circled as the next young breakout star in Los Angeles heading into the 2023-24 season. Christie put together a special summer league as well as a solid preseason that seemingly indicated that he would get a role in this year's rotation.

Ultimately, Christie was held out of the rotation by Cam Reddish and even as the season has gone along, Christie has only really gotten chances when other players are hurt. Christie only has 11 games with more than 12 minutes since mid-January and has only played 20 minutes six times.

One of those instances came on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks but that only happened because the Lakers were in control and it was a blowout. Now, with the Lakers short yet another hand, Ham is going to be forced to actually give Christie meaningful playing time. Christie is going to have to sink or swim.

Moments and games like this are very important for the upcoming offseason. With a very small sample size this season, the Lakers front office has to pay closer attention to Christie in games like this to see if he is worth bringing back in free agency.

Christie likely is not going to get any substantial minutes in the NBA Playoffs (if the Lakers get there) so now is the time to see what the team has. And quite frankly, the team probably has someone who is better than the veteran alternative.