Before the Lakers took a step in the right direction on the court in their 116-105 win against the Orlando Magic on Friday, Anthony Davis was continuing to show signs of progress off of it. The eight-time All-Star has missed the last 16 games with an MCL sprain, but was cleared cleared for contact this week amidst multiple reports that the team has “optimism” he can return during their current six-game road trip.
Prior to the team’s game in Orlando, Davis was seen working out against Lakers assistant Jon Pastorek without a knee brace on, a step in the right direction from his previous workouts that featured a bulky knee brace:
Anthony Davis getting pregame reps without his knee brace. You can tell which shots he’s hitting from the baseline fans cheering in the background. pic.twitter.com/VbKPmtNRHg— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 21, 2022
AD getting some post reps going against assistant Jon Pastorek … and having a little fun. pic.twitter.com/R9HJFBSA85— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 21, 2022
It turns out that was not just a sign of progress, though — it was also a precursor to Davis being upgraded to questionable vs. the Miami Heat on Sunday. This is the first time Davis hasn’t been explicitly ruled out of a game since sustaining his MCL sprain. He will be a gametime decision.
The day before, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel played coy, dryly deadpanned “no timeline” when asked about when Davis would be back, and said he wasn’t sure how much progress has been made, smiling as he played into his almost self-parodous level of not wanting to reveal information.
“I’m not sure specifically what (Davis) did yesterday and today in terms of the ramp-up, but he’s got a plan to continue to build up each day,” Vogel said.
LeBron James didn’t provide much more detail, but did admit he’s excited that he’s closer to getting his co-star back.
“Whenever AD is ready, we’re going to love that, that’s for sure,” James said. “He’s one of our biggest guys that we have, and having him on the floor just creates so much for us offensively and defensively. We’re able to do so much more.”
Still, James wanted to make it clear he’s not rushing Davis back, saying that his health and rhythm are what’s most important, in that order.
“Once that we know that he’s healthy and he knows that he’s healthy, we can get him back on the floor and then he can start to get his wind and his rhythm,” James said.
If Davis doesn’t return against the Heat, his next chances to play will be when the team travels to play the Brooklyn Nets (Tuesday, Jan. 25), Philadelphia 76ers (Thursday, Jan. 27), Charlotte Hornets (Friday, Jan. 28) before finally wrapping up the Grammy trip against the Atlanta Hawks (Sunday, Jan. 30).
Given all the public progress he’s making and all the noise, it would be a shock if Davis’ return doesn’t come somewhere within that range, potentially even as soon as Sunday. That’s great news for the Lakers, who will need all the help they can get from their star defensive anchor as they try to save their season.
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