The status of Los Angeles Lakers star forward Anthony Davis is murky at this stage.
With 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, Davis went up for a rebound against Kevon Looney and caught an incidental from Looney to the head.
He grimaced in pain, holding his head. He did not return.
It was quickly reported that Davis had been wheeled to the Lakers locker room in a wheelchair.
The fact that a wheelchair was involved, and that Davis didn’t return, asked questions as to how serious the injury was.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said after the game that Davis was already doing “much better” than when he left.
According to NBA TV’s Chris Haynes, Davis “stumbled,” and had to be held up. Despite that, he reported, “it appears he has avoided a concussion and is doing much better now.”
That’s a fairly worrisome diagnosis given the concussion-like symptoms Davis showed.
The way these things proceed are fairly unpredictable.
In the NFL, players often show no signs of concussions after hits to the head. They’ll return to action and then display signs of concussions in the following days before entering the protocol. Every recovery timeline is unique.
Draymond Green hit his head hard on the floor in Game 4 and did not appear to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return to the locker room for evaluation.
The two incidents put the NBA’s concussion protocol in the spotlight.
Davis being brought into a quiet room and evaluated is the first part of the league’s concussion evaluation process, per NBA protocol:
If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, he will be removed from participation by either a team physician or the player’s team athletic trainer and undergo evaluation in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.
If Davis was not diagnosed with a concussion, he is, per protocol, to be monitored by the Lakers medical staff and be evaluated for a concussion before Game 6, or roughly 24 hours after the initial concussion evaluation, whichever is first. That suggests Davis will be evaluated some time tomorrow night.
If he is diagnosed with a concussion, Davis cannot begin the return-to-participation exertion process until 24 hours after the injury.
That process is as follows:
a. The return to participation process involves several steps of increasing exertion – from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
b. With each step, a focused neurological examination is performed and a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the process (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
c. It’s important to note that there is no timeframe to complete the process. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
Based on Haynes’ report, it would seem likely that Davis is available for Game 6. But the fact that Davis was in a wheelchair after showing signs of an unstable equilibrium, and Green didn’t even leave Game 4, begs questions of the rigidity of the league’s protocol.
Another update should come tomorrow, roughly 24 hours after the initial injury.