LeBron James has missed 11 games for the Los Angeles Lakers since he suffered a groin injury in a Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors. In that stretch, the Lakers have gone 4-7 and, unsurprisingly, have not looked particularly good without their superstar forward.
James’ agent, Rich Paul, insisted LeBron missing three weeks was always part of the timetable, noting that they were going to make sure he was fully healthy before he returned in order to ensure he didn’t aggravate or worsen the injury. Paul said three weeks was the early end and six weeks was the longer end, but that he’ll return when ready and not a moment sooner.
Shortly after Paul’s comments went public, the Lakers offered yet another official update on LeBron’s status. The team announced James wouldn’t travel on their upcoming two-game road trip but would return to practice next week in hopes of ramping up his workload towards an eventual return.
This means he will definitely miss games against Oklahoma City and Houston on this road trip, and seems to indicate Monday’s game against the Warriors in L.A. will likely not include LeBron either. The Lakers do have a lengthy homestand beginning with that Warriors game, and the hope seems to be that he’ll return at some point during that stretch. L.A. won’t play again until Thursday after that tilt with the Warriors, when they host the Timberwolves, followed by a Sunday game with the Suns.
As Vardon notes, a 14-game absence would make this the most games he’s ever missed in a season, which is a rather incredible stat. We’ll have to see if the Lakers can find a way to get a win against their upcoming playoff competition without him, or risk another three-game skid to slide in the Western Conference playoff race.