When Davis suffered the injury, he didn’t know that he’d miss 30 games, but he knew it was more than just a minor calf injury.
“I’ve felt pain there before just going through the process from the first time I injured it,” Davis said after practice on Wednesday. “The second time ... I hate to say it, but, I’ve never — knock on wood — torn an Achilles, but I kind of felt like sharp pain and like it was ripping, kind of, which I’d never felt before.
“The pressure was tough. Flexing my foot and things like that was very painful, so I knew it was something serious. It wasn’t as serious as it could have been, but it was still a pretty significant injury.”
Now, Davis is hoping to put all of that behind him and finish the season strong.
“I wanted to make sure it was 100% when I came back,” Davis said. “I don’t want to have to go through this over and over for the rest of the season, let alone the rest of my career ... it wouldn’t be fair to myself and it wouldn’t be fair to my team. It feels good. I feel 100% healthy. I feel great.”
Davis was cleared for full on-court activity last week, but he’s yet to make his highly-anticipated return to the court because the Lakers are waiting to see how his body responds to full-contact workouts. According to Davis, he’s had three days of full-contact workouts, including a full practice on Wednesday.
“We’ll see how it responds in the morning, see if it’s sore or if it feels good, and we’ll go forward from there,” Davis said.
If Davis doesn’t feel any soreness on Thursday, he plans to play, and Frank Vogel is on board with that plan.
“As long as he feels good in the morning,” Vogel said on Wednesday. “I mean, that’s the biggest factor. It’s not “we want to make sure looks good on the court today,” which he did; it’s really how he responds to the increased workload, and if he has significant soreness, then, you know, we’re prepared to wait another game, but hopefully he feels well, tomorrow and is able to go, and if he does, he’ll be on a 15 minute restriction.”
Vogel said that Davis’ minutes restriction will be evaluated on a “game-to-game basis,” but that he doesn’t anticipate there will be “too many games” where he’s on a minutes restriction. He also said that Davis will start when he returns, whether that’s Thursday or shortly thereafter.
Expectations will be high for Davis from day one, especially with the Lakers sitting at the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, but Vogel knows that it’s going to take time for Davis to look like the All-NBA player he was before his injury.
“Usually, if you’re out for this long, it takes a couple of weeks, to be honest, to really feel like you have your legs under you and your rhythm and timings back, as well as working in new teammates,” Vogel said.
In the meantime, Davis is confident that the Lakers will be able to win games and gain some ground in the standings.
“A lot of guys around the league aren’t healthy, a lot of teams aren’t healthy, and for us to, for the most part, be healthy — I’m 100% healthy and then we got ‘Bron who’s coming back as well, who’s going to be 100% healthy — I think we put ourselves in a good position,” Davis said.