For the most part, the Los Angeles Lakers have been able to stay healthy this season with the exception of a few bumps and bruises here are and there. However, those bumps and bruises can take a little while to recover from when you’ve been in the league for 14 years like Jared Dudley has.
The 35-year-old forward has missed the last 15 games due to a calf injury he suffered against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 8. Dudley was making progress toward a return last month, but he re-aggravated it while playing pickup with his younger teammates.
The Lakers have managed to go 12-3 in his absence, but he’s eager to go back on the court with his teammates. Fortunately for him, it sounds like he’ll available sooner rather than later.
In an interview with Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet on Monday, Dudley said he expects to be back in uniform as soon as Friday:
“Phenomenal. I’m phenomenal now, finally. I had two minor, minor, minor setbacks in different places, when I was in Cleveland and Boston, where they kind of tightened up on me. Since then, we’ve kind of scaled back, reevaluated, went back to lifting and getting it right. Tomorrow, I’ll practice. I expect to be back on the court hopefully Friday ... I think these boys can handle it without me, but it’s time for me to get back out there.”
It’s probably worth noting that Dudley only played 22 minutes in the six games he played before his injury and was a DNP in the four other games he played, but even with that in mind, there’s really no downside to having a healthy body on the bench. Plus, when Dudley does play, he makes every second count. The seven minutes he played against the Bulls on Jan. 8 were some of the most inspired minutes any player on the Lakers has logged this season.
Would the Lakers be alright if Dudley didn’t play another game this season? Sure, but the league is better with Dudz in it. Hopefully we see him out on the floor when the Lakers take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.