Since revising their timetable for Anthony Davis’ return from a right calf strain on multiple occasions, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t gone into much detail on when AD and LeBron James (high ankle sprain) will return to the floor.
Frank Vogel and the team have stuck to ruling out James “indefinitely” and providing sparse details on his recovery. They’ve held off on pinpointing a target return date for Davis.
So, leave it to their outspoken and wonderfully media-friendly teammate, Jared Dudley, to provide the most detailed update yet on Davis’ progress, via Spectrum’s LakeShow Podcast.
“AD is coming along, he’s on the court and doing definitely his little workouts, his calves. I’m in the weight room with him. He’s gonna be getting on the floor more this week, he’s gonna do about 30 minutes non-stop. He’s gonna get to playing here shortly and so give him a couple more weeks.”
Dudley confidently says Lakers will be at full strength in 3-4 weeks https://t.co/PhQHUaFPfH
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) April 8, 2021
James and Davis are both accompanying the Lakers on their current five-game East Coast road swing and were prominent side-line cheerleaders during Tuesday’s impressive win over the Toronto Raptors (in Tampa).
Remains (by far) the premier 3-point celebration pic.twitter.com/86BzQULQ0e
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) April 7, 2021
Noticeably, James was not wearing any kind of walking boot.
— Cole Lucenti (@King_Cole87) April 6, 2021
On Thursday afternoon, James teased his return via a semi-cryptic Instagram post.
Obviously, the Lakers could use reinforcements ASAP. L.A. has been without recently-signed starting center Andre Drummond, who lost a toenail in his Lakers debut last Wednesday and hasn’t played since. (He’s set to return on Thursday vs. the Miami Heat, and the latest buyout addition, wing Ben McLemore, will be available, too.)
The Lakers have gone 4-5 without their superstars while beating only lottery teams — just good enough to keep apace in the Western Conference standings. The short-handed Lakers have remained an elite defensive squad, though their offense has plummeted to 29th in efficiency since James was hurt.
“‘Bron just got out of the boot, he’s moving forward,” Dudley added. “And Drummond is back, so listen, within the next 3-4 weeks we’re gonna have everybody back and then we’re rolling.”
On Tuesday, the New York Times’ Marc Stein offered his own reporting into Davis’ timeline:
“Davis has missed the past 22 games because of persistent Achilles’ tendon discomfort and an adjacent calf strain. There is some hope within the organization that he will return to the lineup after the Lakers’ five-game Eastern Conference swing underway, but any injury that involves the Achilles’ tendon, no matter how purportedly mild, is going to spook people until Davis gets back on the floor. Achilles’ tendon injuries remain the most feared in the sport.”
The defending champions are amid a tough stretch of their schedule. Following Thursday’s date in Miami, they’ll visit the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Hornets before five total games against the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Dallas Mavericks. Naturally, there’s been some speculation that Davis might return for the Celtics matchup on April 15, which will be the first night fans will be allowed back in Staples Center — and could be a banner-raising occasion.
“The only certainty that I can give you is that we’ll have fans there,” Vogel said, when asked about Davis returning vs. Boston. “I can’t give you anything past that. I know it’s still uncertain when he’ll return.”
AD has not played since Valentine’s Day after re-aggravating his calf and Achilles. He’s averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 23 games.
“He’s making great progress,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said Monday when asked if he had insight on Davis’ status. “We were just joking a little bit that he could give us like five minutes tomorrow. But we don’t know anything about his timetable, or when he’s coming back. He didn’t participate in the practice today, but he did shoot a little bit, and he says he’s feeling good. So we’re just waiting on him and whenever he’s ready.”
James was arguably leading the MVP race before Atlanta Hawks big Solomon Hill landed on his right leg. In his 18th season, the 36-year old is putting up 25.4 points, 7.4 boards, and 7.9 assists per game on 51.3% shooting.
As for Dudley, he’s recovering from a right MCL tear and is hoping to put off surgery until the offseason and be available to play in the postseason.