Next man up has been a common refrain for the Los Angeles Lakers as they’ve dealt with numerous injuries over the past couple of seasons.
During their current road trip, the Lakers saw Anthony Davis leave early against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a non-COVID illness. LeBron James admitted that he and the rest of the team would have to step up in the big man’s absence, though the King himself was forced to sit against the Toronto Raptors as he deals with ankle soreness.
Prior to the game against the Raptors, head coach Darvin Ham explained why Davis, James and Patrick Beverley were held out, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s a day-by-day thing. Obviously, AD has the…cold-like, people saying flu, it’s more like cold-like symptoms. He did have a fever, so just trying to manage that. Bron has had some ankle soreness and whatnot. So again, back-to-back, there’s still games left to go on this road trip. It’s tough, it’s always a tough place to play but just for the big picture. Again, monitoring his situation and trying to get ahead of that. And then Pat Bev as well. He’s had some tough matchups and competing his tail off. Just managing those three guys.”
When it comes to managing James’ health specifically, Ham admitted that he is looking out for his star because of the big picture:
“I mean, just communication. I went to him days ago. This is what I’m thinking, this is what I want to do, and just let me know how you feel as we get closer. But I wanted to plant the seed right now and let you know where I’m at. And if it takes me saying, ‘No, uh uh’ just getting ahead of it and really saving him from himself, then you just have to do that.
“I come from Kobe when I first started working in the NBA as an assistant coach. I remember days when we would have to do that with Kobe. Giannis…a lot of players that play at that elite level, a lot of times you just have to save them from themselves and that’s the case. But it all starts with the communication and you being clear about your vision and what you want to be and what you want to do in the short term that will in turn have you secure in the best position possible for the long term.”
The Lakers will only go as far as James can take them, so it’s good to see Ham is doing what he can to make sure he can make it through the rigors of the regular season. Hopefully this approach bears fruit and has Los Angeles where it wants to be later in the year.
Russell Westbrook praises Thomas Bryant for stepping up in place of Anthony Davis
With Davis forced to leave early against the Cavaliers, Thomas Bryant got extended minutes and he delivered with his best game of the 2022-23 season. Bryant’s impact didn’t go unnoticed from his teammates, especially Russell Westbrook who praised him for his performance.
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