NBA Rumors: LeBron James, Anthony Davis Injuries and Why Jazz Traded Dante Exum

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19:  LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers wait for a free throw during the second half of a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on December 19, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Although the Los Angeles Lakers have dropped three straight games since a 24-3 start, only injuries seem like they could derail the franchise's promising 2019-20 season.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both missed a game recently, but the level of concern isn't particularly high.

In fact, the superstars should be ready for the brightest spotlight of the NBA campaign so far. James and Davis are expected to play Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Reporting with @McTen: Stars are aligned for Lakers-Clippers on Christmas Day. Lakers conducted impromptu practice this morning and LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) are expected to play vs. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at 8 PM ET on ABC.

Davis missed the Dec. 17 clash against the Indiana Pacers, who earned a 105-102 victory that halted Los Angeles' seven-game winning streak. Two games later, James watched from the sideline as the Lakers fell 128-104 to the Denver Nuggets.

Worse yet, Davis fell awkwardly and seemed to injure his right knee against the Nuggets but returned to that game.

In between those absences, Davis and LeBron both played in the team's 111-104 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Put simply, it's been a rough week in Laker Land.

The timing for positive news could hardly be better, though. Snapping a three-game skid while toppling their Staples Center rivals would be extra encouraging, particularly since the Lakers are set to play a full-strength Clippers squad.

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha

Doc Rivers said today was the first practice the Clippers have had every player healthy and available all season.

Christmas Day marks the second of four regular-season clashes between the L.A. franchises. The Lakers are looking for redemption after the Clippers won the first game 112-102.

This one particular result, no matter the winner, will define either team's season. But the showdown is both more entertaining and meaningful with LeBron, Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and a full complement of teammates on the court.


Why Utah Tweaked the Roster

Monday, the Utah Jazz snapped the NBA's trade drought of five-and-a-half months, sending Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson.

But that was merely the start of a head-turning night.

Utah waived veteran forward Jeff Green, who had appeared in all 30 games and averaged the seventh-most minutes on the team. Utah replaced him with Rayjon Tucker, a 22-year-old undrafted rookie still seeking his NBA debut.

Rayjon Tucker
Rayjon TuckerRon Hoskins/Getty Images

"The flurry of moves can be traced to one constant, according to league sources: The Jazz have not been happy with their bench play," Tony Jones of The Athletic reported.

Clarkson should provide an immediate scoring boost to Utah's reserve unit, which has the third-worst net efficiency, per HoopsStats.com. The Jazz tried for years to develop Exum, but the oft-injured guard fell out of the rotation this season.

Additionally, per Jones, Utah wanted to prioritize Georges Niang for his spacing threat. He's shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range, whereas Green was at just 32.7 percent.

Tucker should further help the perimeter upgrades. Starring for the Wisconsin Herd of the G League, he averaged 23.8 points while hitting 38.6 percent of his triples.

Utah's new-look bench will make its collective debut Thursday when the Jazz host the Portland Trail Blazers.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR