Anthony Davis has been taking baby steps towards a return for weeks now, but he just took his biggest leap forward yet as he looks to come back from the mid-foot sprain that has cost him the last 16 games. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel announced on Monday that Davis was a full participant in practice for the first time since his injury on Feb. 16, going through all of the team’s drills and scrimmaging without any issues.
“We’re at a point now where it’s about how he responds to that and the level of soreness he has coming out of his first live work,” Vogel said, adding that the Lakers would be listing Davis as “doubtful” for their Tuesday matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. That is the first time Davis will be listed on the injury report as any designation other than “out” since sustaining this injury, so it certainly represents progress, even if it is still unlikely he’ll actually play in Dallas.
LeBron James, who suffered a painful ankle sprain against the Pelicans on Sunday night, will also be listed as doubtful to play, while Dwight Howard has been upgraded to probable with his ongoing hip soreness.
ESPN previously reported that Davis was aiming for a return in the first week of April, and with this update that would certainly appear to still be on the table. Given the Lakers’ dwindling hopes of even making the play-in game at this point, it’s not clear how much Davis’ return will matter — or what situation he’ll even be coming back to — but for anyone holding out hope that this team can still “salvage” this season and at least avoid the embarrassment of missing the play-in, this would appear to be movement in the right direction.
Still, Vogel preached patience with his star, and said the team would continue to be cautious so Davis doesn’t get hurt again.
“He’s got to get his legs under him. That’s the biggest thing. When you have a foot injury like this it’s not as easy to do all your running and stay in shape as it is if you had a wrist injury or something like that, so that’s definitely going to take time,” Vogel said. “You have to be more cautious with the return to play, because if you throw him out there and he doesn’t have his wind, then the injury becomes compromised or you overcompensate in certain ways, and you don’t want that. So there is definitely going to be a stretch here when we get him back where he’s getting his legs under him.”
The Lakers tip off against the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT, and if Davis doesn’t return in that one, his next opportunity will either be on Thursday against the Utah Jazz on the road, or on Friday, when the Lakers host the Pelicans at The Crypt for the final time this season.