As the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for training camp, one of their prized offseason acquisitions, center Timofey Mozgov, is sidelined with a groin injury he suffered during an international game against Ukraine on Friday. Mozgov underwent an MRI on Saturday and it was decided he would miss Russia’s next two tournament games in Tbilisi, Georgia, according to Lakers spokesman John Black.
Mozgov, 30, signed a four-year, $64 million deal to join Los Angeles this offseason, leaving the 2015-16 NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the process. As he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, it was not an easy decision to make.
“I was proud to be a part of the team, but I want to play,” Mozgov said. “It was a hard decision. Of course you want to stay on a team that you know will be one of the teams that fights for a championship. But in my personal opinion, I have to take a bigger step and move forward.”
Training camp is just over a month away and if the injury proves serious, Mozgov’s next few weeks could be limited to a spectator’s role. It will also endanger the promise the new Lakers head coach Luke Walton made to Mozgov, who averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 76 games for Cleveland last season.
“He said I’m going to play a lot. I really like it,” Mozgov said. “He said I’m going to be a big part of the team on the offensive and defensive end.”
Mozgov will rest his injury and is expected to be reevaluated in the next few days.