The Los Angeles Lakers could be welcoming Anthony Davis back to the lineup soon, but it will not be Sunday against the Miami Heat.
Davis has been out with a sprained MCL for the past five weeks and was originally listed as a game-time decision for Sunday’s matchup against the Heat. He’s missed 16 games with the injury, with the Lakers going 7-9 over that span.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel officially ruled out Davis prior to Sunday’s game. Vogel said he’s getting closer to a return but noted it was unlikely that he’d be back so soon during the road trip.
Prior to the injury, Davis was averaging 23.3 points on 52.1% shooting, 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Where Davis has really been missed is on the defensive end, where he’s averaging 2.0 blocks, 1.2 steals and is a dominant presence in the paint.
On top of that, Davis is one of only three holdovers from last year’s Lakers roster, so his knowledge of the team’s defensive system can’t be understated.
LeBron James Ready for Davis’ Return
LeBron James has been carrying the load for the Lakers in Davis’ absence and is looking forward to welcoming him back to the lineup.
“Whenever AD is ready, we’re going to love that, that’s for sure,” James said of Davis on Friday. “I mean he’s one of our biggest guns that we have, and having him on the floor, it just creates so much for us offensively and defensively, able to do so much more. But his health is what’s most important, and once we know that he’s healthy, he knows that he’s healthy, we get him back on the floor and then we start getting his wind and his rhythm.”
At age 37, James is averaging 28.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season, logging a significant amount of minutes at the center position. He and Davis are expected to hold down that spot when he returns.
Kendrick Nunn Progressing
Another piece of the puzzle for the Lakers that’s been missing is guard Kendrick Nunn, who has not played in a regular-season game due to a bone bruise on his knee. Nunn appeared close to a return but suffered a setback earlier this month.
Vogel said there’s no firm timeline for Nunn to rejoin the Lakers, but that he’s progressing.
He averaged 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 67 starts with the Heat during his rookie season, landing on the All-Rookie team and finishing runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. Last season he averaged 14.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Someone who understands what Nunn brings to the table is Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who commented on his former guard prior to their clash with LA.
“He has that scoring punch, he can do it at all three levels. He ignitable. He can make plays off the dribble,” Spoelstra said.
The Lakers are trying to stay afloat in the standings while still not at full strength and could decide to shake things up at the February 10 trade deadline. Things appear to be hitting a breaking point with both Vogel and Russell Westbrook, with rumors circulating that one — or both — could potentially be on their last strike.