LeBron James may miss his first game of the season tomorrow because of a muscle strain near his rib cage, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The Lakers star wasn’t able to practice today and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s showdown with the Nuggets.
James suffered the injury Tuesday night in Indiana, but played through it in a loss to the Pacers. He posted a triple-double in Thursday’s loss in Milwaukee, which marked L.A.’s first two-game losing streak of the season. Sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN that James has been dealing with a nagging groin issue as well. A torn groin on Christmas Day last season caused him to miss 18 games.
Goon and Windhorst both emphasize that it’s not a case of load management for James, who has been an outspoken critic of that practice.
“I don’t know how many games I got left in my career,” he said last weekend. “I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game and they’re there to come see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation. My obligation is to play, play for my teammates and if I’m healthy, then I’m going to play. If Coach sits me out, then I’m not healthy. And it’s just that simple.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- If LeBron is sidelined, his starting spot may go to Kyle Kuzma, who has missed the past five games with an injured ankle, Goon adds in the same piece. Kuzma, who is listed as probable for tomorrow, went through a full practice today and doctors will see how he responds before determining if he can play.
- There are more injury concerns for the Warriors as standout rookie Eric Paschall is having his right knee evaluated, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Paschall left Friday’s game after Pelicans guard J.J. Redick fell on his knee in the first quarter.
- The injury-depleted Suns are suffering through their worst stretch of the season with five straight losses, notes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Their injuries include Deandre Ayton, who sprained his ankle right after returning from a 25-game suspension. “We’re a new program, and we’ve dealt with a lot, and I think that’s a sign of good things to come,” coach Monty Williams said. “So I’m good. I really am. I hate losing. I hate the emotional losses. But we’re learning a lot, our guys are getting a ton of experience, and we’ve got 50-plus games left. Perspective is something we all need.”