Anthony Davis has been cleared for full on-court basketball activity and could be returning to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup as soon as this weekend.
Head coach Frank Vogel revealed the news while speaking to reporters prior to Thursday night’s game against the Boston Celtics.
“He was evaluated again upon the return from this trip, and he has been cleared for full, on-court activity,” Vogel said, per SB Nation. “Full practice, anything we want to do with him to begin his full ramp-up and return to play. All the court work he’s been doing to this point has been to get him to be fully cleared to participate in full practice.”
Vogel said it’s unlikely that Davis will be in the lineup for games against Utah on Saturday and Monday, but it’s “not out of the question.”
“Obviously he’s not playing tonight,” Vogel said. “It’s unlikely he plays in the two Utah games, but not out of the question and we’ll see over the next few days, hopefully, he’s available after that.”
Davis has been out since February 14 with a calf strain and Achilles tendinosis. Prior to Thursday’s game, the Lakers had gone 12-14 in that span without their All-NBAer, falling from No. 2 in the Western Conference to No. 5.
The Lakers have taken a conservative approach with Davis with the injury, minimizing the risk that he could re-injure himself.
“He’s tired of being a patient and ready to be a player again, so he’s eager to get to work in real practice the next few days in live work, and more eager to get back on the floor,” Vogel said. “And obviously that’s going to give our whole group a big lift.”
Prior to the injury, Davis was averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds, while also helping bolster the Lakers’ stout defense with 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals.
Anthony Davis to Begin on Minutes Restriction
When Davis does make his debut, he’ll be on a strict minutes restriction, per Vogel.
“It’s not going to be a full return to playing 30-some minutes a night, especially with the nature of practice and how shorthanded we are. He’s going to have to use some games to get back in shape,” Vogel told reporters. “So the first few games he’s back will likely be short-minute performances, with probably like a 15-minute minutes restriction and build up from there.”
The Lakers are also looking forward to the return of LeBron James, who is dealing with a high-ankle sprain. He’s expected to return within the next three weeks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates!” he tweeted after suffering the injury. “I’m hurt inside and out right now. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left.”
James was among the MVP frontrunners at the time of his injury, averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 assists and 7.9 rebounds.
Lakers Are Banged Up Beyond Davis, James
The Lakers are barely holding it together beyond James and Davis out, with multiple other players banged up following an extended road trip. Both Andre Drummond (right big toe contusion) and Markieff Morris (left ankle sprain) were out on Thursday night against Boston. Starting point guard Dennis Schroder was a game-time decision with a right foot infection.
The Lakers are eager to further integrate Drummond into their system, but a break could do the big man well. He scored just four points on 2-for-7 shooting for Drummond comes just a night after he scored just three points in a loss to the Knicks.
“Offensively, this is probably the worst I’ve played in my career,” Drummond told reporters. “I’m still trying to figure it out here. I’m not allowing it to take me out of my game. I know why I’m here, which is to help this team defensively. Offensively, it will come for me.”