The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to a slow start this season, in large part because LeBron James has played just six games so far. He missed two games early on due to a sprained ankle and is currently sidelined with an abdominal strain that has kept him out since Nov. 2.
There’s still no exact timeline for his return, but the good news for the Lakers is that he should be back in the near future. Via ESPN:
“Soon,” a source close to James told ESPN when asked about James’ return timetable.
The source said James is “progressing great” in his on-court workouts. However, Vogel said the 19-year veteran has yet to participate in a full practice or take part in contact drills.
Both of those will be pre-requisites for LeBron getting back on the court, and it seems like once they happen he should be ready to go. At this point, all signs are pointing to LeBron playing again at some point during the Lakers’ upcoming five-game, eight-day road trip that begins Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
While the 36-year-old LeBron is no longer at the peak of his powers, his return will obviously be a welcome sight for the Lakers. He’s still putting up 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and seven assists per game, and controls the game like few others in the league. It’s no surprise that their offense has been 7.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than with him off.
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Through 14 games, the Lakers are 4-2 when he plays, compared to 4-4 when he sits, and are currently in seventh place in the crowded Western Conference at 8-6. There’s still plenty of season left to play, but the longer they have to play without LeBron the worse for the Lakers. As we saw last season when they ended up in the play-in tournament because of a lost tiebreaker, one game can make all the difference in terms of seeding and matchups for the playoffs.