Anthony Davis Injury: How AD’s Latest Ailment Might Impact the Lakers on the Buyout Market

If Anthony Davis is trying to shake the “injury-prone” tag, someone should tell him he isn’t doing a very good job.

The Los Angeles Lakers star suffered a mid-foot sprain against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. It’s just another ailment for Davis, who missed over a month with an MCL sprain earlier this season.

While AD’s return to action is unknown, the Lakers must immediately begin preparing for his absence. The answer might already lie on LA’s below-average roster. However, expect the Purple and Gold to emphasize finding a suitable replacement for the superstar big man on the buyout market.

The Lakers are hoping to avoid the worst with Anthony Davis’ latest injury

With three minutes remaining in the first half, a full crowd at Crypto.com Arena held its breath when Davis fell to the floor. The 28-year-old jumped up to receive a pass and landed awkwardly, turning his right ankle before going down. After being looked at by the training staff for several minutes, he left the game.

The initial diagnosis was more promising than the injury looked. However, Davis is expected to miss a bit of time.

According to insider Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet, the first round of X-rays came back negative, leaving Davis with a sprain rather than tear or fracture. Though as Shams Charania tweeted late Thursday night, the eight-time All-Star will miss the next four weeks before being re-evaluated by the team.

Davis has already missed 21 of a possible 58 games in 2021-22. He missed exactly half of last year’s 72-game season, mostly due to Achilles tendinosis. When healthy, the Brow is averaging 23.1 points and 9.7 rebounds for the 27-31 Lakers.

Anthony Davis’ injury should change the Lakers’ approach in the buyout market

After a quiet trade deadline resulting in zero changes, the Lakers are hoping to improve their club with a buyout candidate or two. LA has often gone this route during the LeBron James era, signing Markieff Morris in 2020 and both Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore in 2021.

The Purple and Gold reportedly have their sights set on a few candidates like Goran Dragic and Dennis Schroder to help relieve Russell Westbrook at guard. But in the wake of Davis’ sprained foot, the club might need to put more emphasis on finding an upgrade for the frontcourt.

Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan are the only two true centers on LA’s roster. Yet both have massively underperformed and lost playing time, Jordan in particular. With Davis now out for the next month, LA would likely hold major reservations about giving either of them a steady dose of minutes.

The other option is to start LeBron at the 5, something the Lakers experimented with during Davis’ previous absence. LA actually had success during this time, going 5-2 before opting back to a traditional big in the starting lineup. However, the Lakers know the durability risks that come with asking the 37-year-old James to play center more often than not.

This could prompt the Lakers into aggressively pursuing a big man or two on the buyout market. They were previously linked to James’ former teammate Tristan Thompson, however the veteran is reportedly heading to the Chicago Bulls. But other upgrades like Derrick Favors and Robin Lopez might be available assuming their teams (Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic) buy them out over the next few days.

AD’s durability issues should force the Lakers to reevaluate their roster construction going forward

In all likelihood, Davis will recover from this sprain and be back on the court at some point this season. But it’s a near guarantee there will be another injury that comes up soon after, whether it’s this season or in the years to come.

Sadly, AD is constantly at risk of missing time due to a variety of ailments. Therefore, it’s crucial the Lakers plan for that when constructing next year’s roster.

Considering the money tied to James, Davis, and likely Westbrook next season, LA will once again be resigned to signing a slew of minimum-salary veterans. But rather than inking one-dimensional centers to play alongside AD, general manager Rob Pelinka should target athletic forwards capable of filling in should the star go down.

Stanley Johnson is the perfect example of that. The 25-year-old stands at just 6-foot-6 but is capable of playing a variety of positions, including those in the frontcourt. With Johnson and James at the 4 and 5, LA played some of its most inspiring basketball of the season.

Versatile, athletic players capable of replacing Davis in a pinch should be a major priority for the Lakers going forward. But for right now, finding a way to swap out someone like Jordan for a better big man is priority number one.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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