After missing 11 games with a groin injury, team doctors from the Los Angeles Lakers cleared LeBron James to participate in practice next week.
LeBron is expected to miss the next two games. He will not be traveling with the Lakers during their two-game roadtrip to Oklahoma City and Houston. When the team returns to Los Angeles, LeBron will join them for his first practice of the new year.
LeBron leads the Lakers with 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game. Last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron played all 82 regular-season games plus 22 playoff games.
The Lakers (24-21) were six games over .500 after an upset 127-101 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas. The Lakers lost LeBron to a groin injury in the third quarter of the holiday game and since struggled with a 4-7 record. In the playoff standings, the Lakers are currently tied with the Utah Jazz for the #8 spot in the West.
The Lakers beat the lowly Chicago Bulls this week in a game that might have saved Luke Walton’s job as head coach. Earlier this season, Magic Johnson had a heated meeting with Walton after a slump to start the season. Despite the flare up, Magic insisted that Walton’s job was safe for the rest of the season.
Without LeBron in the line up, the Lakers look lost, especially late in the game. The young squad relied heavily on LeBron to take over in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers have upcoming games against three of the top teams in the Western Conference including the Warriors, Thunder, and Rockets.
“It’s a tough three-game stretch,” said forward Kyle Kuzma. “Super tough.”
Without LeBron, the Lakers will have to figure out how to cool down the red-hot James Harden, who dropped back-to-back 50-point games. Earlier this season, Harden torched the Lakers for 50 points and collected a triple double. After a quick trip to Texas and Oklahoma, the Lakers fly back to Southern California to host the Golden State Warriors on Martin Luther King Day.
Injured groins are a touchy subject. Groins recover at various rates depending on the severity of the injury. In LeBron’s case, his mild-pull did not require surgery. However, the staff projected he would miss anywhere from three to six weeks.
“We don’t give a s–t what nobody thinks or says,” said LeBron’s agent Rich Paul. “We’re going to do what’s best for him. The best-case scenario was three weeks, the worst-case was six weeks, and we’re right on schedule. He’ll improve his workload, and he’ll be day to day from there.”
LeBron injured his groin during a Christmas game. If he adhered to the six-week recovery period, he would not be ready for action until early February.
Doctors evaluated LeBron’s groin on Wednesday, which marked three weeks from Christmas. The medical staff like what they saw and determined LeBron could return to practice next week. His overall return date to the starting lineup is unknown and he will most likely miss next Monday’s game against Kevin Durant the Golden State Warriors.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Lakers are 10-1 odds to win the NBA championship.