Despite surprisingly being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, Anthony Davis did not return to the court for the Lakers in Miami against the Heat. However, as head coach Frank Vogel revealed prior to the game, that was a sign that Davis’ return was imminent.
“That was more about (the fact) he’s getting closer, felt good with his work yesterday but not quite there yet,” Vogel said of Davis being upgraded to questionable. “We knew this was the first game where it would be possible but still unlikely so we just checked in on how he felt yesterday knowing that he’d still be probably not ready yet but getting closer.”
In lieu of reps in practice that are unavailable with the Lakers being a road trip, Vogel and the Lakers have had Davis practice against and with assistants in an effort to have him ready to hit the court. But it’s a fine balance the Lakers have had to manage of not rushing Davis back despite the team floundering without him.
“We have to make sure we do it safely and at the right pace and at the right time,” Vogel said. “In terms of what pushed it, we just knew he was getting close and we wanted have transparency with reporting that it wasn’t 100% that he wouldn’t play so we upgraded him to questionable. We knew it was probably unlikely. There was no setbacks or anything like that, just a matter of him getting closer.”
Davis was not the only Laker with a recent injury update as Kendrick Nunn’s return was further delayed last week. Vogel revealed some more information on the guard, who would not be available for his return to face his old team in the Heat on Sunday.
“We’re hoping it’s a short-term gap,” Vogel said. “He did get back to work on the court. He’s not in a shutdown or anything like that. But the timeline, it was just delayed with the soreness that he was feeling.”
No Laker has had a more frustrating go of things this season than Nunn, who only appeared in a small handful of preseason games before being sidelined since. Despite not being physically available, Nunn has remained integrated within the team this season.
“Just communicate, make sure he’s involved with what we’re doing in our film sessions,” Vogel said of how the team has kept Nunn involved mentally. “He’s someone the guys enjoy being around. He’s still with us every day. He just hasn’t been on the floor in front of everyone else yet. But he’s staying lifted and we’re all eager to get him out there.”
Unfortunately, Nunn has been saddled with an injury that can be unpredictable at times to come back from, as he’s learning first hand. Despite an original timeline estimating he’d only be out for weeks, Nunn’s injury has kept him out for multiple months.
“He’s just a tough go of it with this bone bruise,” Vogel said. “Bone bruises are tricky. Each time we’ve tried to ramp up his activity, his soreness has ramped up with it. It’s always one of those things when you see that, you have to back off. We don’t really have a firm timeline but we’re hopeful to get him back as soon as we can.”
While Davis certainly appears far, far closer to a return than Nunn, both players are on the verge of returning. For all the faults the Lakers front office has, this team has never been whole this season and, depending on what happens at the trade deadline, may never be, at least as originally constructed.
But the Lakers nearing full strength is always a good thing and — knock on wood — that appears to be the way they’re finally trending.