The Los Angeles Lakers must continue to adapt without their second star as Anthony Davis was ruled out for at least two more weeks after being re-evaluated on Friday night.
Davis was cleared to begin his next stage of rehab, but it will keep him sidelined for several more games after the calf strain he suffered a few weeks before the All-Star break. He has already missed 10 consecutive games.
While Davis being cleared to begin his next step of rehab is great news, the Lakers must figure something out, as they went just 3-6 in the first nine games of his absence.
Two weeks from Friday means his earliest possible return would be March 28 against the Orlando Magic. The Lakers play eight games in that stretch, including notable matchups against the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers.
As is always the case with injuries, the Lakers plan to exercise as much caution as possible. With the Lakers firmly among the top four in the Western Conference, their playoff chances are not in jeopardy.
“We anticipated it was going to be a little bit of a build-up once we get back, so we’ll be patient,” head coach Frank Vogel said after Friday night’s win over the Indiana Packers. “We’ll continue to compete and win games and we’ll all be very excited when we finally get him back.”
Over the next two weeks, the Lakers will rely heavily on LeBron James to lead the way. To replace Davis they’ll turn to Montrezl Harrell, Damian Jones and Marc Gasol when he returns from the health and safety protocols.
If Davis is cleared to return on the 28th — which is unlikely — that will give him approximately six weeks to get his legs under him before the beginning of the postseason.
With the NBA’s trade deadline approaching on March 25, the Lakers must figure out if Davis’ injury affects their plans.
James confident in current team, not focused on player movement
As rumors continue to swirl around the Lakers and various trade targets, James has not been focused on any of that, asserting that he is confident in their roster. “I’m not in the mind frame of what needs to happen as far as our roster,” James said. “For us, what needs to happen is we just want to play better basketball with the group we’ve got and I believe in every guy that’s in our locker room and every guy that hits the floor on every given night.
“Obviously throughout the course of the season, if there’s an opportunity for your team to get better through trades or through the market of guys getting bought out and things of that nature, you assess that then. But I don’t really put my mindset to it, I don’t really think about it right now in my career.”
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