The last time LeBron James went down with a serious injury, the Los Angeles Lakers sputtered and missed the playoffs.
However, this time around the Lakers have the requisite talent and depth to stay afloat and keep pace with a competitive Western Conference. Although James has missed over a month with a high ankle sprain, Los Angeles has been able to scrape together enough wins to hold onto the fifth spot in the standings.
While Anthony Davis was recently cleared for full on-court activity, James’s return will likely have to wait a couple more weeks.
Head coach Frank Vogel revealed where James is in terms of his rehab. “Yeah, it’s still light work on the court, but he is doing court work,” Vogel said before Monday night’s game against the Utah Jazz. “Progressing each day. Just trying to do a little bit more with activity each day.”
The Lakers have no reason to rush James back as the rest of the roster has looked more comfortable playing without him and Davis. The only thing that matters for Los Angeles is getting to the playoffs healthy, so they are right to let the 36-year-old work his way back slowly.
Davis could conceivably return later this week, but it might be until the end of April or early May until James is back on the court. However, that is a small price to pay if it means the Purple and Gold will be 100% available and rested come the postseason.
Vogel still preparing for games without James & Davis in mind
It feels like an eternity, but there finally seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Lakers. Injuries have hit the team hard, so it is a relief that they will be getting back James and Davis sooner rather than later.
However, Vogel is not ready to begin imagining what it will be like when they do return. “I don’t think we’re there yet, to be honest,” Vogel said. I know I’m not, I know my coaching staff is not. Even when Anthony returns, it’ll be on short limited minutes. Minute-restriction types of games.
“We’re still in a stretch where we have to compete and win games for the most part without those guys and I think when we ultimately get back in there whether it’s the first game or the second Dallas [Mavericks] game, I think we’ll have that energy that Kieff was talking about at that point, but right now we’re still in the mindset that we have to win games without those guys.”
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