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Lakers’ Anthony Davis to begin ramp-up process with foot injury this week

DENVER — Since Anthony Davis got hurt last month against this same Nuggets team, the Lakers have been cautious about ascribing any kind of timetable to the 29-year-old’s return.

But Tuesday should be a milestone in Davis’ recovery from a troublesome injury in the navicular bone in his right foot. Pending an evaluation on Monday night in Denver, Davis expects to begin ramping up toward play this week. The timeline was first reported Monday morning by ESPN.

A person with knowledge of Davis’ recovery confirmed to Southern California News Group that Davis, who has now missed 13 consecutive games, will likely begin with underwater workouts and anti-gravity treadmills to reduce the load on his feet as he conditions back to game shape. The process could take weeks, but there is hope that Davis could be ready to play by the end of the month.

Getting that on the record, however, is a different story. Coach Darvin Ham would only confirm that Davis expects to start ramp-up on Tuesday.

“Once we arrive back home, he’ll start that tomorrow,” he said. “There’s different benchmarks built within the process in the upcoming weeks. If he meets those marks and checks those boxes, then he’ll be back on the court. It’s as simple as that. Am I willing to put a timetable on it? No.”

Davis has only received treatment and done spot shooting since injuring the foot on Dec. 16 – the most concerning aspect of the injury is a stress reaction, which the Lakers medical staff and other outside doctors determined needed rest.

Counting the missed game in Denver, Davis has played just 101 of 195 possible games in the last three seasons. At the time of his injury, Davis was the leading scorer (27.4 ppg) rebounder (12.1 rpg) and shot-blocker (2.1 bpg) on the team, drawing buzz for a scoring stretch that included a 55-point effort against the Washington Wizards.

Ham has said multiple times over the recent stretch that the Lakers have mentally adapted to playing without him – but hope for him back soon.

“I just think everyone’s pitching in for our fallen soldier,” Ham said after a recent game. “He’ll be back in due time, but until then, guys are stepping up and making plays.”

LeBRON GETS WEEKLY HONOR, SITS OUT

The NBA graced LeBron James’ effort last week with Western Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday afternoon. The 38-year-old averaged 35 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists as the team went 4-0 (3-0 in games in which James played). It was the 18-time All-Star’s first weekly honor since Dec. 2021, the 66th of his career.

The Lakers were put in the somewhat awkward position of listing their conference player of the week out for Monday night’s game in Denver. James is just 35 points away from 38,000 for his career.

James has been listed on the injury report with left ankle soreness, but he’s dealt with several ailments, including an adductor strain and missing last Wednesday’s game against Miami with a cold. At the halfway mark of the regular season, James has played in 31 of his team’s 41 games – the Lakers are 15-16 when he plays.

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Ham didn’t specify exactly what was keeping James out of the game against the Nuggets, but James has earned the trust of the coaching staff for his sense for how he’s feeling.

“I mean this is what, his 20th season? He’s probably dealing with a little bit of everything I’m sure,” Ham said. “Playing at the level he plays at, it’s a matter of managing it and all of us being on the same page of communication, and that’s been the case. He’s great about that, he’ll get up and put himself through his normal routine and see what he can endure and what he can’t endure and then go through the process of making a decision based on those activities and the result of those activities.”

The Lakers also ruled out Troy Brown Jr. with a left quadriceps injury for the third straight game. Lonnie Walker IV (left knee tendinitis) and Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain), who also missed the game, aren’t scheduled for evaluations until next week.

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