Jared Dudley may be a gift that keeps on giving for the Lakers.
Despite moving on from the franchise this offseason by retiring and joining Jason Kidd’s coaching staff in Dallas, Dudley — unsurprisingly — has a relationship with the prominent Lakers on the roster in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That relationship nearly kept him on the roster for the 2021-22 season and was an integral part of his value while he was a Laker.
And that relationship could still be paying dividends for the Lakers in this season. On a recent episode of “The Underdogs Podcast,” Dudley revealed that Davis had called him to discuss his weight loss while rehabbing from an MCL sprain last season with the Lakers (h/t LakersSupply/Twitter).
“I lose 20 pounds in-season, which is almost impossible to do that at the time for the Lakers, and I’m not even playing. It’s so funny, now AD has the same injury now and now he’s calling me ‘Hey, what did you do?’ Cause he saw me. ‘Jared’s in the weight room doing cardio an hour before practice. He’s sweating and now it’s practice time.’ And I don’t get to practice. It’s the top ten guys. But he sees me going crazy and now practice is over, now I’m in the weight room doing stuff for my knee.”
In March of last season, Dudley was diagnosed with an MCL tear that many assumed would end his career. However, instead of surgery, Dudley rehabbed his injury and lost 20 pounds in the process, allowing him to return in time for the playoffs.
Why would this matter to Davis? Notably, Davis appeared at training camp this season bulkier with the expectation of playing more minutes at center, which he has done. But while he has scored at a career-best rate around the rim, it has seemingly come at the expense of his jumper.
While Davis’ call to Dudley could be for any number of reasons related to his injury rehab considering the two have had very similar injuries. But often where there is smoke, there is fire. Given the Lakers shift to a small ball philosophy that emphasizes spacing and driving, Davis looking to shed some of the weight put on before the season to adapt to that style.
At worst, though, Davis is searching for ways to rehab his MCL while staying in shape. Davis is set to be re-evaluated at the beginning of next week and could be eyeing a return to the court during the Lakers upcoming road trip. As he begins ramping up, being in shape and in top condition should be a top priority.
Dropping some weight to adapt to the team’s new style could potentially be a big added bonus.