In what has become all too familiar a refrain with Lakers star Anthony Davis, both in his NBA career in general and in his time in Los Angeles more specifically, coach Frank Vogel explained before the team’s game on Sunday against the Magic that Davis would be out and that a timetable for his return had not been set. This time, it is a knee injury holding him back.
“Anthony is going to be out again tonight,” Vogel said. “He’s going to be considered day-to-day. They did an ultrasound on it, everything’s structurally intact. Taking another day with the two days off before the next game, hopefully put this behind us.”
While much of the focus has been on the good news that Vogel imparted in his pregame media session—that there is no “structural damage” for Davis in the knee—the part that should be concerning for Lakers fans everywhere is that the team does not seem to know what, exactly, is causing the pain.
The hope seems to be that a little rest will fix what ails Davis. He last played on Thursday and, after Sunday’s game, the Lakers won’t be on the floor until Wednesday in Dallas. That gives Davis and opportunity to rest against two of the weaker teams in the league, the Thunder and Magic.
But health is always going to be a major concern for Davis, who went down after Game 3 of the playoffs’ first round last year and played only 36 of 72 regular-season games.
Serious Anthony Davis Injury or Rest Ruse?
It is entirely possible that the Lakers simply want to keep Davis on the bench for an early-season break and that the knee soreness is merely a ruse to achieve that. Certainly, the Lakers are offering very few specifics on the knee problem.
On Friday, when Davis was first held out with the injury, dubbed “knee soreness” by the team, Vogel said that Davis simply woke up with the pain and that it had no discernible cause.
“I don’t really know exactly what the next steps are,” Vogel said. “Other than, the medical team just said, ‘We want to find out exactly what it is before we put him out there.’ So they were going to hold him out for (Friday’s) game. But I don’t know the exact next steps. He got treatment and they just came in and said he’s out.”
Convenient that it happened on the back end of a back-to-back, with two opponents bearing a combined record of 13-39 up ahead. Ahem.
Davis Taking Extra Scrutiny After Barkley Jab
If any Lakers player could use a season reset—and yeah, it is true that they all probably could—it is Davis, who has been wholly underwhelming this year. He has had a “meh” season at a point when LeBron James is heading toward age 38 at the end of the month and needs Davis to be the dominant interior force he only sometimes shows a desire to be.
Davis is averaging decent enough numbers, with 24.0 points on 52.3% shooting, but has shown too much of an affinity for 3-point shots, which he makes at just a 19.2% rate. He seems to have little appetite for banging around in the post, and his post-up possessions have steadily declined, from 5.1 per game in his first Lakers season, to 4.8 last year and 4.2 this year.
Davis was blasted this week by Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who said on the TNT halftime show, “Listen, Anthony Davis, you gotta play better. I said on the first night, if the Lakers were going to be any good, it was all gonna be on you. Has nothing to do with Russell, has nothing to do with LeBron and the rest of them old a** geezers. … In my opinion, I blame Anthony Davis. Anthony, you know I like you as a person. But you ain’t doing what you supposed to be doing. You’re 27 years old, you’re supposed to be one of the best players in the world. … You ain’t holding up your end of the bargain.”