With Anthony Davis hurt, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ frontcourt could get shaken up a bit. Head coach Frank Vogel has some very important decisions to make if the big man has to miss any time. One player who certainly won’t be an option is Kostas Antetokounmpo. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, the young power forward has returned to Greece to take care of a “personal matter.”
There’s no mention on what exactly the personal matter could be but Wojnarowski and McMenamin did report that he could return:
Antetokounmpo has not been with the team for the duration of L.A.’s playoff run while in his home country of Greece, sources said. There’s no immediate timetable for his return, but there’s optimism that he could rejoin the team this postseason should the Lakers advance past the Phoenix Suns in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Antetokounmpo only played in 15 games during the regular season so he wouldn’t have been an option to replace Davis. However, he’s been a lively member of the bench previously and even though he doesn’t play much, there’s no doubt the team would like to have him around. Notably, there has been no indication that his brothers Giannis and Thanasis, who play for the Bucks and will be heading to the Eastern Conference semifinals, have plans to head back home to Greece.
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Who Will Replace Davis in the Starting Lineup?
The Lakers have not ruled out Davis for Game 5 against the Suns but the signs point to him not playing. That would be a massive blow for the team as he’s been excellent in their two wins, scoring 34 points in each of those games.
With the series tied at two games each, Los Angeles can’t afford to dwell on a Davis absence and needs to decide on a rotation. Markieff Morris started a pair of playoff games against the Houston Rockets last postseason and it may be time for him to get back into the starting lineup. That seems very possible considering a message Morris posted on Twitter after Vogel revealed that Davis was questionable.
Morris had a much bigger role during last year’s playoff run but hasn’t done much this year, scoring just three points in 12 minutes total thus far. This could be his time to shine as the Lakers need a spark if they hope to survive the Suns.
Vogel Talks Possible Loss of Davis
Davis is as close to an irreplaceable player as there is in the NBA. He’s unstoppable on offense when he’s hot and a shutdown defender. Even as he dealt with injuries throughout the year, mostly the calf injury that kept him out from February 16 through April 19, Davis averaged 21.8 points and 1.6 blocked shots. The Lakers can’t hope to magically get better without him and Vogel admits the team will miss him if he can’t play.
“He’s one of those players that dominates both sides of the ball,” Vogel said. “We’re going to miss his scoring and everything he brings to the table offensively. But what he is defensively is deeply going to be missed with his ability to guard on the perimeter. We’ll definitely miss him on both sides of the ball if he does not play.”
Though Davis’ status for Game 5 is in question, that doesn’t mean the Lakers are dead in the water quite yet. They still have LeBron James, which makes them a threat to win any game. Regardless, the team will be hoping that Davis’ absence will only extend to one game at the most.