After a string of high-profile injuries, the Los Angeles Lakers are apparently now in the market for a new head athletic trainer.
The Lakers declined to renew Nina Hsieh’s contract, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
Hsieh was promoted to the top training job ahead of the 2019-20 season. She’s spent more than a decade working for the Lakers in various roles, including for their G League affiliate and as an assistant trainer.
She made history in the role, too. Per McMenamin, Hsieh was the first female head athletic trainer in any major professional sports team in the United States that won its league championship last season when the Lakers won the NBA Finals inside the bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida.
Lakers struggled with injuries
Lakers players missed a total of 201 games this season, according to ESPN — and it clearly had an impact on the team’s success.
The Lakers had to play their way into the playoffs, and then fell in the first round to the Phoenix Suns last month while Anthony Davis was in and out with a groin injury. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso also suffered significant injuries during that series.
Lakers star LeBron James struggled at the end of the season with an ankle sprain, too. The 36-year-old missed 26 of their final 30 games trying to recover, and missed the longest stretch of time where he’s had to sit out due to injury in his nearly two-decade career.
It’s not just the Lakers that struggled with injuries. Statistically, injuries were up about 5% across the board with 5.1 players missing each game due to due to injury, non-COVID-19 illness or rest this season. James blamed the new condensed schedule and shortened offseason for the increase in high-profile injuries recently, too.
While it’s not fair to blame Hsieh for James’ prolonged absence, or any others that happened throughout the year, it’s clear the Lakers are ready to find someone else to try and keep their roster as healthy as possible moving forward.
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