As he was leading the Los Angeles Lakers to what finished as a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, LeBron James lost his footing as he went to recover his dribble and suffered a strained groin.
James managed to retain possession, pass off to Lonzo Ball, and head back on defense. But that would be his final time on the court as James signaled to the bench for a timeout after the Lakers secured a defensive rebound.
James attempted to stretch but was unable to shake the discomfort and gingerly walked to the locker room. There was initial optimism over the severity of his strain, but it wasn’t until this past Friday that James was cleared for an advancement in on-court work.
While Lakers head coach Luke Walton was vague in discussing how close to a return James may be, the 16-year veteran is prepared to remain out in the weeks ahead should that be what’s required for a full recovery, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
While James, 34, could be in line to return in time for the Lakers’ game against the Thunder, he will take a cautious approach and is prepared to be out multiple weeks if that’s what it takes to return at 100 percent, a source familiar with James’ thinking told ESPN.
James is due to be re-evaluated again on Wednesday, which is when the Lakers will be traveling for a two-game road trip against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers will mark his 10th missed.
His absence has coincided with Rajon Rondo also not playing since Christmas because of surgery to repair a ligament in his sprained right ring finger, and Kyle Kuzma also missed 2.5 games due to a lower back contusion.
The Lakers have gone 3-6 in games James, Kuzma and/or Rondo have missed, and tumbled down to eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
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