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Darvin Ham says Austin Reaves is close to return, could play vs. Pelicans

The Lakers could be back to full strength this weekend with Austin Reaves potentially returning for Saturday’s game against the Pelicans, according to head coach Darvin Ham.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After missing the last 15 games due to injury, Austin Reaves could be set for a return this weekend for the Lakers. Reaves has been dealing with a hamstring strain and has sat out for a month but looks primed to rejoin the team this weekend potentially. Speaking to the media before the Lakers’ game against the Pacers on Thursday, Ham said that Reaves’ return may be imminent.

Reaves was set to be reevaluated on Thursday as it stood and clearly, based on Ham’s words pregame, that went well. The team sorely needs him back on the court with his mixture of defense, playmaking, shooting and general ability and willingness to be a glue guy.

The team doesn’t have enough competent connector-type players on the roster, and none of that is to speak about his size as he’s one of the closest things the Lakers have to a wing outside of LeBron James and, now, Rui Hachimura.

Without him, the Lakers have gone 8-7 after Thursday’s win against the Pacers. It repeats the trend of the team largely treading water after their 2-10 start. The hope is that, with Reaves representing the final rotation player on the injury report, the team can finally string together a series of wins and finally make a run into the postseason.

Saturday could mark a good time to return as it would come against a Pelicans team that is absolutely reeling. Once seeded near the top of the Western Conference, New Orleans is at the bottom of the playoff race, competing with the Lakers for a play-in spot.

Perhaps finally, after a season of battling uphill, the Lakers can finally get on the front foot and look like the contender they’ve shown flashes and glimpses of being, assuming Reaves does actually make his return over the weekend.

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