In the wake of the news of LeBron James’ injury and the amount of time he’s set to miss, the Lakers will need all hands on deck to save their season. Most notable of those they will eagerly await to return is D’Angelo Russell.
After a strong start to his second Lakers tenure, Russell went down with injury against the Warriors and has missed back-to-back games since. As reported at the time of the injury, though, the Lakers weren’t anticipating this to be a long-term injury and it looks like it’ll be just a week that Russell misses.
On Tuesday, Ramona Shelburne reported on ESPN’s NBA Today that the Lakers are expecting D’Lo back against the Timberwolves on Friday.
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The caveat to this is it doesn’t sound like he’ll return for either of the remaining two games of the Lakers’ road trip. He was, obviously, already ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies, but the hope was that he could potentially play in Wednesday’s game against the Thunder. However, head coach Darvin Ham more or less shot down the possibility before Tuesday’s game.
That is still on the table for now as he hasn’t officially been ruled out, but regardless if it’s Wednesday or Friday, it’s a short absence for the guard. The fact he participated in Sunday’s warm-up prior to the game against the Mavs indicated he wasn’t far off. There’s also the aspect that a return on Friday would have him suiting up against his former team, setting up a great “Revenge Game” scenario.
And the Lakers are going to sorely need Russell at 100% with LeBron out. No player can remotely replicate LeBron’s impact on the game but, from a scoring perspective, no one on the Lakers roster is better equipped to fill that hole than D’Lo.
The quicker he can return, the quicker the Lakers can adjust to life without LeBron for the coming weeks and, hopefully, string together strong run of results.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.