Anthony Davis

L.A. Notes: AD, Schröder, Zubac, Lakers Skid

Veteran big man Anthony Davis recently chatted with Bill Oram of The Athletic to discuss the strained right calf that will keep him off the floor for the Lakers for the next several weeks, as well as his efforts to serve as a de facto coach as he travels with the club.

“Something might happen while a player is in the game and they want to see it to see how they can adjust,” the Lakers’ All-Star forward/center said. “And so that’s kind of my job. I see something on the floor, I kind of use the iPad and film because film never lies.”

Davis also addressed his progress in his recovery from the calf injury. He could return to the court for the Lakers by mid-March at the earliest. “(Physical therapy) stuff on it every day,” he said. “Nothing too crazy, but a lot of stuff in the weight room.”

There’s more out of the City of Angels:

  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is holding out hope that starting point guard Dennis Schröder can clear the COVID-19 protocols that have sidelined him since last week in time for tomorrow’s game against the Trail Blazers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets. Schröder has been held out for each of the Lakers’ last four games, all losses.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue seems to be maximizing reserve center Ivica Zubac, according to the Orange County Register’s Mirjam Swanson. Lue has been focused on ensuring that Zubac finishes with power around the rim lately. “He’s been on me about finishing, being aggressive, dunking the ball every time I can,” Zubac said of Lue. “Every time I get a dunk over someone, next to someone, I come up to him  and ask him if that was good enough.”
  • As the Lakers battle through a season-worst four-game losing skid (thanks in part to the absences of Davis and Schröder), the champs are hoping the experience will toughen them ahead of the coming postseason, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register.

2021 NBA All-Star Reserves Revealed

The 2021 NBA All-Star reserves have been revealed. Below is the full rundown of the 14 players scheduled to join the previously announced 10 starters for the March 7 contest in Atlanta. All-Star reserves are selected by the league’s head coaches.

Eastern Conference Reserves:

Notable omissions this season include recent Heat All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, two-time Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton, recent Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, recent Pacers All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis, and Sixers forward Tobias Harris.

Brown, LaVine, and Randle are making their All-Star debuts. Harden is the most decorated among the All-Star vets among the East reserves, as he will be appearing in his ninth All-Star contest.

Western Conference Reserves:

Lillard, who just barely missed out on a starting nod to Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, earns his sixth All-Star mention as he mounts a sleeper MVP campaign with the Trail Blazers. Paul will be playing in his 11th All-Star game, for a fourth different team (he did not earn an All-Star nod in either of his two Rockets seasons, but made it with the Clippers, New Orleans Hornets, and Thunder).

Snubs in the West include recent Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, and 33-year-old Jazz point guard Mike Conley, the latter of whom may go down in history as the best NBA player never to make an All-Star team. Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, is a first-time All-Star. Last year, his teammate Brandon Ingram made his own All-Star debut.

Conley may still have his day in the sun, however. Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes that Lakers All-Star big man Davis, recovering from a right calf strain, will likely not be healthy in time to partake in the currently-planned All-Star game, and thus another Western Conference All-Star should eventually be named by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to replace the eight-time All-Star.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers’ Davis Out About Four Weeks, Schröder In Protocols

After initially being ruled out at least two or three weeks when he was diagnosed with a right calf strain on Monday, Lakers star Anthony Davis was reevaluated by team doctors on Thursday and has a new recovery timeline, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters last night.

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers expect that Davis will miss approximately the next four weeks. That estimate includes the time it would take him to ramp up his conditioning once he’s healthy enough to resume workouts.

“We want to try to put this fully behind him and be conservative with it, just to make sure that it’s fully healed before he’s back,” Vogel said of Davis, who has also experienced Achilles tendinosis in his right leg.

The updated timeline ensures that Davis will remain out for the Lakers’ last seven first-half games and won’t be back on the court until at least a week into the second half, which gets underway on March 10. It will also sideline him for the March 7 All-Star Game, opening the door for another Western Conference player to replace him on the roster if he’s named a reserve, which is likely.

The Lakers figure to lean more heavily on the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Marc Gasol during Davis’ absence.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles also had to deal with a hole in its backcourt on Thursday night vs. Brooklyn, as Dennis Schröder was out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Vogel said after the game that he’s not yet sure how much time Schröder will miss as a result of those COVID-19 protocols, per McMenamin (Twitter link).

There have been some instances of players receiving clearance within a day or two if they returned a false positive or inconclusive coronavirus test, or if they were subject to a contact tracing investigation and were determined not to have been a close contact of someone who tested positive for the virus.

However, if the player is determined to have been a close contact of someone who tested positive, he’s generally sidelined for at least a week. If the player registers a confirmed positive test himself, his return timeline is usually at least two weeks or so.

Wesley Matthews replaced Schröder in the Lakers’ starting lineup on Thursday. If Schröder has to sit for a week or two, Matthews, Alex Caruso, and Quinn Cook are among the top candidates to play extra minutes.

California Notes: Looney, Wiseman, Lakers, Santa Cruz Warriors

Warriors center Kevon Looney, sidelined since spraining his left ankle in a February 2 loss to the Celtics, has rejoined the Warriors for “segments of practice” and is planning on suiting up with the club during Golden State’s impending road trip, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle details the import of the big man’s return to the lineup in a new piece. “I always joked that I never hurt my ankle,” Looney said after incurring the injury. “I guess karma caught up with me.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Warriors rookie center James Wiseman, out with a left wrist injury suffered on January 30,  rejoined Golden State for practice on Tuesday, according to Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area. The No. 2 overall draft pick out of Memphis, Wiseman has a chance to return to the court for the Warriors as soon as Friday against a depleted Magic team. “With a sprained wrist you don’t know if it will be one week, two weeks or three, so I’m just following each procedure, but there are no setbacks,” Wiseman said.
  • The Lakers are seeing their frontcourt depth tested with the extended absence of All-Star power forward/center Anthony Davis, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. Kyle Kuzma has taken over starting duties, and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell is seeing expanded minutes as a super-sub. Starting center Marc Gasol and reserve power forward Markieff Morris have also seen more run in the rotation.
  • spoke to Santa Cruz Warriors broadcaster Kevin Dana about how Golden State’s G League affiliate team is adjusting to life in the 2021 NBAGL Orlando “bubble.” Dana lauded the output thus far of young prospects Nico Mannion and Jordan Poole.

Anthony Davis Out At Least 2-3 Weeks Due To Calf Strain

5:00pm: Davis did not have a rupture in his right Achilles tendon, according to a team press release. Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter) that today’s MRI did confirm a re-aggravation of Davis’ Achilles tendinosis in addition to his calf strain.

3:53pm: After undergoing an MRI, Davis has been diagnosed with a right calf strain and will be re-evaluated in two or three weeks, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Woj adds (via Twitter) that the Lakers and Davis will take a conservative approach to his return, which could happen after the All-Star break.

8:32am: After missing two games last week due to right Achilles tendinosis, Lakers star Anthony Davis aggravated that issue during Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets when he bumped legs with Nikola Jokic, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

Davis, who was forced to leave the game early, was diagnosed with a right Achilles strain and will undergo an MRI on Monday after the Lakers arrive in Minnesota for Tuesday’s game against the Wolves, according to the team. The 27-year-old said he felt “completely fine” earlier in the day on Sunday, but is now waiting on further testing to confirm the diagnosis and to get a sense of his return timeline.

“I mean, you kind of learn a lot from the MRI, so kind of just waiting on that,” Davis said on Sunday night, per McMenamin. “Obviously, the doctors don’t want to rule out anything and then it’s something, or say it’s something, then it’s not. But they say everything looks good, but you still want the MRI just to make sure.”

We’ll have to wait for an official update from the Lakers following that MRI, but one expert who spoke to Jovan Buha of The Athletic speculated that the club may play it safe by giving Davis “multiple weeks” to fully recover. The Lakers’ big man sounds hopeful he’ll be back sooner than that, but acknowledged that a cautious approach is the right one with any Achilles issue.

“I do put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and play. If I feel I can go out there and play, I will, Davis said. “… But this one is a little different that I definitely have to be smart with. I don’t want to go out there and try to play and risk it for the long term. So, all that is inclusive of what the MRI shows. Knock on wood, it’s great information — and I’ll be out there sooner than later.”

Kyle Kuzma figures to be first in line for an increased role if Davis misses time.

L.A. Notes: Davis, Vogel, Zubac, Ballmer

Anthony Davis missed two games this week because of Achilles tendinosis, but the Lakers star doesn’t expect it to be a long-term concern, writes Jovah Buha of The Athletic. After returning to the lineup with a 35-point performance Friday, Davis explained to reporters how the injury is affecting him.

“It felt great going into the game,” he said. “But as you play, I’m always using that Achilles tendon. It got sore towards the end from just constantly moving on it. But it felt great coming into the game, felt great throughout the game, but late game it was kind of bothering me a little bit. I felt like we had the game in hand when I was able to — and Coach felt that way — when I was able to sit down the last two and a half (minutes).”

Davis added that doctors told him the pain isn’t coming directly from the Achilles tendon, but from an adjacent body part in the same area of the leg. He said the quickest way to recover is through rest, but he doesn’t want to sit out a lot of games in a row.

“The doctors and training staff feel comfortable enough for me to go out there and perform as well,” Davis said. “So it’s something that’s gonna continue to get better. (I’m) constantly doing treatment on it throughout the day, throughout the night, and wearing stuff in my shoes to help out the pain level and wearing tape and all these things to make it feel better throughout the course of time, and basically, I’m very — I’m able to just go out there and play and not worry about it.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • After trimming his rotation during the week, Lakers coach Frank Vogel expanded it to 10 players Friday with the return of Davis and Alex Caruso, Buha adds in the same story. Vogel called it “impossible decisions” to determine what to do with Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris when the full team is healthy, noting that both of them “deserve to be in the rotation.”
  • The Clippers lost Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, but their bench remains among the most productive in the league, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. One of the new components is center Ivica Zubac, who was a starter last season. “I am just in a space where I want Zu to be great,” said reserve guard Lou Williams. “I want to push him, I want to challenge him to be the best player that he can be and at the same time, we can feed off each other’s success and continue to build.”
  • Seattle will be at the top of the list whenever the NBA decides to expand, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said on a Clubhouse podcast.

Pacific Notes: Wiseman, JTA, Davis, Kings, Suns

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr hinted earlier this week that James Wiseman may be close to returning from sprained left wrist, but after being reevaluated on Thursday, the rookie center has been ruled out for at least another week. He’ll be reassessed again in seven-to-10 days, as Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets.

Wiseman has been going through individual workouts, but has been somewhat limited in those sessions because he’s still feeling pain in his injured left hand. Until that pain goes away, the Warriors’ big man is unlikely to return, tweets Andrews.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Pacific…

  • An Oakland native, Juan Toscano-Anderson still can’t quite believe that he’s a member of the Warriors, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated writes in an in-depth look at the forward’s circuitous path to the NBA. While he’s currently on a two-way contract, Toscano-Anderson is a candidate to eventually be promoted to the standard 15-man roster.
  • Lakers star Anthony Davis, who has missed the last two games due to right Achilles tendonosis, is content to play it safe with the injury to avoid the risk of making it worse, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. “I just don’t want to play a game where I still feel it and then get hurt and now I’m out for the playoffs or whatever or for multiple weeks,” Davis said.
  • Although it’s still too early to say whether the Kings will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee points out that veterans like Cory Joseph, Jabari Parker, and Nemanja Bjelica are candidates to be moved no matter which direction the team goes.
  • The Suns are increasing the limited capacity at the Phoenix Suns Arena from 1,500 fans to 3,000, as of February 16, the team announced in a press release.

Pacific Notes: Dudley, Suns, LeBron, Davis, Toscano-Anderson

Lakers forward Jared Dudley said the team was motivated by Clippers star Paul George‘s comments last season, with Dudley clarifying further in his book released earlier this week, “Inside the NBA Bubble: A Championship Season under Quarantine”.

“We hear some of those guys talking about how they’re the team to beat in L.A.,” Dudley and co-author Carvell Wallace wrote, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s fine if Kawhi [Leonard] says stuff like that. He’s defending a championship. We don’t trip if someone like Patrick Beverley is talking trash; that’s how he feeds his family. We get it. We respect the hustle.

“But we think it’s disrespectful for Paul George, who hasn’t won, to put himself on the level of [LeBron James] and [Anthony Davis]. This motivates us.”

Dudley also mentioned how the league could benefit from having a Lakers-Clippers rivalry, with both teams seemingly eager to meet in a playoff series — potentially the Western Conference Finals.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns are set to welcome back fans for the first time this season, the team announced on its website. Phoenix will host 1,500 fans on February 8, with suites being available to purchase at 25% capacity for each game after February 7.
  • Marc Stein of the New York times examines the pairing of Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, exploring whether the duo has gotten even better together since signing long-term extensions in the offseason. Los Angeles has opened the 2020/21 season with a 16-6 record, good for third-best in the Western Conference.
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic looks at the making of Warriors swingman Juan Toscano-Anderson. Toscano-Anderson is in his second season with Golden State, with the 27-year-old adding 16 points off the bench in Tuesday’s loss against Boston. “He has an appreciation for the grind that it’s taken for him to get to this level,” teammate Stephen Curry said. “He has a spirit of representing Oakland. Playing for the hometown team for him has got to be such a dope experience. But when it comes to getting on the floor, he plays hard. He’s a smart basketball player. He’s reliable in that sense. He’s worked for everything he’s gotten, for every opportunity. … He hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal.”

Western Notes: Davis, Grizzlies, Jazz, Popovich

Lakers star Anthony Davis will miss Thursday’s game vs. Detroit due to a bruised right quad, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. As McMenamin notes, Davis seemed to be favoring his right leg during Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, but downplayed the issue after the game and said he felt “physically fine.”

This will be the third time this season that Davis has missed one half of a Lakers back-to-back set. Assuming the injury is minor, he should be able to return on Saturday when L.A. faces the Celtics in Boston.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • After five straight postponed games, the Grizzlies returned to practice on Wednesday night, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. That’s a strong signal that the team will be ready to resume its schedule against San Antonio on Saturday, though it remains to be seen how many players will be available, says Barnes.
  • With the Jazz on a 10-game winning streak, forward Joe Ingles told reporters on Wednesday that the team is “just a really fun group to play with,” tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. There’s no egos involved,” Ingles said, adding, “It’s not as unsalvageable as some people think.” His last comment is a tongue-in-cheek reference to an Athletic report from last April in which a source suggested the relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert didn’t appear “salvageable.”
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is celebrating his 72nd birthday today, received the COVID-19 vaccine as part of an NBA-sponsored PSA (YouTube link). The NBA has said it won’t jump the line for the vaccine, but Popovich’s age made him a higher priority to be vaccinated. Mark Medina of USA Today has more details.

Lakers Notes: Horton-Tucker, Caldwell-Pope, Davis, 2020

Preseason sensation Talen Horton-Tucker hasn’t seen significant playing time since the regular season began, but that might change soon, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The Lakers are low on wing players with Alex Caruso in the NBA’s health and safety protocol and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dealing with a sprained left ankle he suffered Friday night.

“He’s a guy who’s young but seems like he’s been in the league for a while,” Anthony Davis said of the second-year shooting guard. “He likes to learn. He’s not afraid of the moment, and we have a guy who’s 19, 20? – something like that – where you can throw him in the fire and he’ll be ready to go, so we for sure got a steal in the draft with him.”

Horton-Tucker spent most of last season in the G League and didn’t make a strong impression on the coaching staff until the restart in Orlando. He was awed by the chance to match skills with veteran J.R. Smith in practice, but now he’s gotten used to facing NBA stars.

“It’s great just being around those guys to see where you are every day,” he said. “For me, it gives me a measuring stick. I wouldn’t say I’m still star struck.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Caldwell-Pope didn’t need a walking boot as he left the arena Friday and isn’t concerned that the ankle will be a long-term problem, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic“Ankle is fine,” he said. “X-rays was negative, just a little sprain. And hopefully I can go in a couple days. We’re gonna treat it for the next couple days until we get to Memphis and see how we go from there.”
  • Davis is one of the best shooting big men in the league, and coach Frank Vogel wants him to put up more shots from long distance, Buha adds in the same piece. Davis shot a career-high 3.5 three-pointers per game last season and the plan is for him to increase that number. “Coach wants me to shoot at least five, average five, a game this year,” Davis said. “… Sometimes I pass up for a better shot. But I just got to shoot it. Any time I can shoot a high volume, I usually shoot pretty well from the field.”
  • Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times talks to Lakers players about the highs and lows of 2020, which included a 17th NBA title, the shocking death of Kobe Bryant and the havoc created by COVID-19.