Pelicans hopeful about Ryan Anderson's return

NEW ORLEANS - Pelicans veteran Ryan Anderson could return to game action on his chipped middle toe as soon as Friday when New Orleans hosts the LA Lakers.

There are no guarantees, but Anderson has been working out with the team and managing the discomfort well this week. Anderson's toe can't get worse, so it's a matter of pain management.

A middle toe doesn't sustain as much pressure as a big toe, so that works in Anderson's favor.

The fledgling Pelicans desperately need Anderson back. He's the lynchpin of the second unit and, outside of Anthony Davis, arguably the most costly loss for this team, with his sharpshooting skills and willingness to assume a leadership role. Anderson factored in as a prominent cornerstone in the front office's rebuilding blue print.

Pelicans management asked Anderson and center Jason Smith to take more active leadership roles this season, and both have risen to the occasion. Anderson, although sidelined with injury, has spent one-on-one time with several players, including guard Austin Rivers and most recently newcomer Jrue Holiday after he ran into foul trouble Tuesday versus the Phoenix Suns.

Anderson was the team's leading scorer last season with 1,309 points.