The Vitality of LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ Health for the Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers’ success in the upcoming season relies not only on their new free agent signings but also on the health of their two returning stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Both players have recovered from the foot injuries they suffered last season, according to Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager. Pelinka expressed confidence in the offseason treatment that James and Davis have received, stating that the reports on their injuries have been positive.

During the previous season, James missed 13 consecutive games due to a torn tendon in his right foot. Although he managed to play in the regular season and help lead the Lakers to the Western Conference finals, his performance was hindered by limited lift and burst in the playoffs. As he approaches his 21st season and turns 39 in December, the four-time MVP expressed his intention to undergo an MRI and potentially undergo surgery in the summer to address his foot injury.

On the other hand, Davis missed 20 consecutive games in the middle of the season due to a bone spur and stress reaction in his right foot. Similar to James, he played in every game during the Lakers’ postseason run. As an 11-year veteran, Davis will be eligible to sign a three-year, $167 million contract extension starting on August 4. Both Davis and James have two years remaining on their current contracts with the Lakers, with a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Pelinka refrained from discussing the Lakers’ extension plans for Davis, citing the restrictions imposed by the collective bargaining agreement. However, he emphasized his high regard for Davis as a player and a member of the Lakers organization. Pelinka praised Davis for his leadership and dedication, highlighting his willingness to play through a challenging foot injury to propel the team to the Western Conference finals. Although contract negotiations were off-limits, Pelinka revealed that he has been in contact with Davis regarding the team’s roster construction.

Looking for Additional Bigs to Strengthen the Lakers Roster

In their pursuit of strengthening the roster, the Lakers have signed Jaxson Hayes to a one-year minimum contract. The team hopes to utilize the 7-foot, 220-pound center alongside Davis at the power forward position, similar to how Davis played with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee during the 2020 championship-winning season. Pelinka compared Hayes to Howard, highlighting his ability as a big body, rim protector, and active roller.

Pelinka also addressed Hayes’ legal issues, as he was arrested in 2021 following a domestic disturbance call. Hayes received a sentence of three years of probation, 450 hours of community service, and a year of weekly domestic violence classes after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment and resisting an officer in June 2022. Pelinka emphasized the Lakers’ commitment to thorough vetting processes and expressed his belief in Hayes’ sincerity and growth from the incident.

The Lakers are actively seeking to add another big to their roster and are particularly interested in a player with stretch 5 capabilities. Pelinka emphasized the importance of diversifying the skills at the center position to complement Hayes’ abilities. One potential option is Christian Wood, who previously played for the New Orleans Pelicans during Davis’ final season with the franchise in 2018-19. Wood, standing at 6-10, averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Dallas Mavericks last season, with shooting percentages of 51.5% from the floor and 37.6% from beyond the arc.

As the Lakers continue to shape their roster, they currently have two remaining roster spots open and plan to keep one vacant position for the start of training camp. The team is determined to find the right combination of players to support James and Davis, ensuring their health and maximizing their potential for the upcoming season. The Lakers’ success hinges on the vitality of their star duo, as their recovery from past injuries will significantly impact the team’s performance on the court.

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