LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers star big man Anthony Davis returned to the lineup Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, coming off the bench for the first time in nearly a decade.
Davis, who has been out the past 5½ weeks because of a broken bone spur and stress reaction in his right foot, was cleared after his pregame warmups Wednesday about two hours before tipoff.
“First of all, I’m happy for him,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I know how frustrating this process has been for him, especially at the level he was playing at. I’m just happy for him, and certainly happy for us. We’ll get him out there, we don’t want to lose his minutes as well , and see how he reacts.”
Davis checked in for the first time with 4:22 left in the opening quarter. He wants a 20-24 minute limit, sources told ESPN.
Ham said he would manage Davis’ minutes so he could potentially close out the game if needed. The last time Davis came off the bench in a game was on December 18, 2013 in Los Angeles against the Clippers in his second season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
All told, Davis has only been a substitute in five of the 629 games he has played in his career. He was asked if Davis was fully recovered or if the team had any lingering concerns about the eight-time All-Star re-injuring himself.
“He’s been through some rigorous therapy, weight training, weight-bearing exercises, activity on the field — both individual and some group workouts,” Ham said. “We would save him from himself if we thought there was any kind of threat or harm that he could do to himself. So he had these boxes that he had to check, and he’s checked them all. So we feel confident that he will show up. tonight.”
Rui Hachimura, acquired in a trade with the Washington Wizards earlier this week, made his Lakers debut against the Spurs and also came off the bench and checked in at the same time as Davis. They were welcomed with loud applause from the Lakers crowd.