The Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA Trade Deadline acquisition of D’Angelo Russell got a lot of fans excited.
Unlike Russell Westbrook, who was a square peg being shoved into a round hole for the duration of his stint in purple and gold, Russell seemed to possess the skills necessary to play well with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Unfortunately, before he could really get any sort of momentum with his new squad, Russell suffered a high ankle sprain after stepping on Donte DiVincenzo’s foot during a game against the Golden State Warriors almost two weeks ago.
He has been out ever since.
The hope was that Russell would be able to get right ahead of the team’s latest game against the Warriors on Sunday. Then in the lead-up, NBA insider Allen Sliwa revealed that he didn’t even look remotely close to returning yet.
“I could tell you this much,” he said.
“We saw him warm up pregame. He did not look like somebody that was ready to come back on Sunday. Now, I could be wrong. But he just wasn’t doing real drills. He wasn’t kind of sprinting and cutting and everything else.
“That actually concerned me a little bit. I thought, at least in my opinion, I thought that hopefully he’d be a little bit further in his progress.”
Surely enough, Russell missed the Lakers’ big Sunday victory over Golden State.
The question now is how bad his injury really is.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham tried to downplay the severity of it over the weekend.
Darvin Ham provides an update on D’Angelo Russell and talks about the gameplan against Steph Curry and the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/3usTxywT4H
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 5, 2023
“Well he’s trending in the right direction, he’s day-to-day,” Ham said.
“Again, there are certain steps we take in terms of getting someone back on the game floor. It’s just not, ‘Okay, he’s made this many threes in individual workouts, so let’s throw him out there.’ No, there’s steps we take, so it’s definitely trending in the right direction.”
That said, the fact that Russell hasn’t come back yet is certainly concerning. Especially given that L.A. is without James for at least two more weeks as well.
The Lakers have their sights on making the playoffs. Team officials even know who they want to play. They just need to get there first.
Obviously the Lakers have been one of three teams linked to a potential Derrick Rose post-buyout signing, so that is also something to keep an eye on should Russell not recover as quickly as initially hoped.
The Wolves suck, but at least KAT had a good date night. https://t.co/04aWoq2TtO
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 6, 2023
The next few days will be telling.
Either Russell will get back in playing shape and help the Lakers get into the playoffs, or they will need to start making some adjustments to the roster.
Will Russell come back at some point this week? Time will tell.