There was a wave of breaking news about the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, but not from the usual suspects like Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Chris Haynes. Instead, it was the players that broke the news.
First, Kyle Kuzma reported that Jared Dudley could make his return for the Lakers this weekend. Dudley has been sidelined since March 3 with a torn MCL.
Then, Dennis Schröder hinted at his return on Instagram with a post captioned “I’m back.” Unfortunately, none of his Lakers teammates commented “that’s tuff” in response to the news.
With all due respect to Dudley, Schröder announcing that his return is imminent is just slightly more significant.
Schröder, the team’s third-leading scorer and secondary ball-handler, has missed the last seven games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Alex Caruso did a tremendous job filling in for Schröder, but he’s dealing with an ailment of his own currently. Talen Horton-Tucker also deserves credit for he way he’s stepped up Schröder’s absence, but he still has a little way to go before he’s on Schröder’s level.
Schröder’s return also means we could see a starting lineup of Schröder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond before the regular season ends. Granted, there are only two games left in the regular season, but if that’s the lineup that Frank Vogel plans on using in the postseason, they need to get as many reps together as they possibly can before then.
As for Dudley, his availability means that the Lakers will have an emergency option at the power forward position going forward, which is no small thing — not every team has a proven stretch big near the end of their bench.
The Lakers’ next game will be against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Hopefully all three of Schröder, Dudley and James are in uniform then.