The Lakers will have to get by without star forward LeBron James for at least a few more games. According to a press release issued today by the team, James is making progress in his recovery from a strained groin and has been cleared to increase his on-court “functional basketball movements,” but won’t be re-evaluated until next Wednesday.
James suffered his groin injury on Christmas Day, with his team rallying in his absence to complete a blowout win over Golden State. The Lakers lost five of their next six games without LeBron, but have bounced back this week after head coach Luke Walton challenged some of his younger players. Los Angeles beat the Mavericks in Dallas on Monday and picked up a home win over Detroit on Wednesday.
Even if James is cleared to play when he’s re-evaluated next Wednesday, that timetable will keep him out of action for the Lakers’ next three games. He’ll be sidelined for the team’s contests at Utah (Friday), vs. Cleveland (Sunday), and vs. Chicago (Tuesday).
After those three games, the Lakers’ next three are against Oklahoma City, Houston, and Golden State, so LeBron figures to do all he can to get back for some or all of those Western Conference showdowns.
In James’ absence, the Lakers figure to continue leaning heavily on starting forwards Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope playing a major role off the bench and Michael Beasley also seeing some minutes.