At this point, if you’re expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to speed up the timetable for Anthony Davis or LeBron James to return to the court: don’t hold your breath.
According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Lakers could be without Davis for at least another week, and likely longer. Here’s what Stein wrote:
“Davis has missed the past 23 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.”
Davis re-aggravated his foot on Feb. 14, after experiencing lingering soreness in the weeks prior. The injury was diagnosed as Achilles tendon discomfort, then re-labeled to a right calf strain.
The estimated timetable for AD was initially set at four weeks, but the Lakers quickly revised that. The organization arguably rushed back Davis the first time. So it should come as no surprise, and with no real concern, in my opinion, that he’ll be out for at least a month longer than anticipated. (Davis has been cleared for on-court activity, but isn’t scrimmaging yet.)
Notably, the Lakers are re-opening Staples Center to limited fans for an April 15 showdown with their rival, the Boston Celtics. L.A. may raise their 17th championship banner (tying them with Boston), too, leading to natural speculation that Davis would make his triumphant return on that special night.
As for James, he’s got a longer road ahead, though he could be back in the fold by the end of April, according to Stein’s sources.
“James has missed the past nine games after sustaining a high-ankle sprain during a game against Atlanta on March 20. The reflex assumption, because this is James, is that he will return by month’s end and duly return to elite form. Given that James is 36, and in his 18th season, we should probably also acknowledge the possibility that his recovery won’t be seamless.”
High ankle sprains can keep guys out for anywhere from two to eight weeks, so a month and change would make sense for James. Vogel and the Lakers have simply ruled James out “indefinitely.”
In both cases, the Lakers will want to provide their stars with adequate “ramp-up” time before returning to action, as Vogel likes to say.
James and Davis both joined the Lakers on their road trip and were front-and-center showing their approval from the sidelines in the win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
The Lakers face a daunting upcoming schedule. L.A. will visit four straight East playoff teams in a row — the Miami Heat (Thu.), Brooklyn Nets (Sat.), New York Knicks (4/12) and Charlotte Hornets (4/13). After that, a stretch of five games that includes the Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Dallas Mavericks. The month of May features four back-to-backs as well for the defending champions.
Fortunately, Andre Drummond (toe) is expected back on Thursday. The Lakers (32-19) are 4-5 since James joined Davis on the injury list on March 20, though all four wins have come against lottery teams.