The Lakers have managed to tread water reasonably well without LeBron James in the lineup, as they have gone 3-5 in their star’s absence (4-5 if you count extending the lead and blowing out the Warriors in the game he left), including back-to-back wins.
It appears James’ absence will extend for at least another week, as the Lakers offered a new medical update on his injured groin on Thursday. According to the update from the team, LeBron will begin increasing his on-court workload and basketball activities, but will be re-evaluated on January 16.
That means he’ll miss at least three more games, including Sunday’s game in L.A. against the Cavaliers. While L.A. will be underdogs to the Jazz on Friday in Utah, they should be favored to get wins over Cleveland and Chicago even without LeBron.
The question will be whether James is cleared to return to play in his next evaluation, as their three games after that date are against the Thunder, Rockets, and Warriors, all of which they will certainly want LeBron in the lineup. Groin injuries are tricky, and it’s wise of the Lakers to continue to be cautious with LeBron, bringing him along slowly. Still, they can’t afford too long of an absence from him as any position lost in the West is going to be critical once it’s time to sort out playoff seeding and who makes and misses the postseason.