Darvin Ham said the Lakers were hoping to treat the final two games of the preseason as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, but that task just became a lot more complicated with the news that Anthony Davis did not even make the trip to Sacramento for Friday night’s contest.
Anthony Davis (back) didn’t make the trip to Sacramento for precautionary reasons.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) October 14, 2022
As first reported by Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Davis stayed in Los Angeles due to lower back soreness, ruling him out of the Lakers’ preseason finale. Davis made no indication of any physical issues after Wednesday’s game against Minnesota when asked about his status; he said, “I feel good physically, body’s feeling good.” However, something changed over the last two days, prompting the Lakers to act out of an abundance of caution.
Davis missed two games earlier in the preseason with back tightness and returned with two excellent performances against the Warriors and Wolves, but this does throw a little cold water on the possibility of Davis’ redemption season. Missing half of the preseason, even if the Lakers have deemed it “precautionary”, stings after Davis missed at least half of the regular season in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
AD’s absence also prevents the Lakers from getting meaningful information out of this final preseason game. The team just made the dramatic decision to bench Russell Westbrook and run the veteran point guard with the second unit, but evaluating starting lineups is much more challenging without Davis in the fold, especially if the Lakers wanted to see how Davis looked next a traditional big without Westbrook on the court.
Of course, so long as Davis is healthy and ready for opening night against the Warriors and beyond, then it really doesn’t matter that the team missed out on a data point against the Kings. Ideally, this is only a one-game absence, and Friday night doesn’t become a test case for how the Lakers handle playing without their star big during the regular season.