Optimism LeBron James Could Return Before Regular Season Ends

1:48pm: James sent out a tweet saying he was not reevaluated today and there’s no target date for his return. He added that he’s “working around the clock” to give himself the “best chance of coming back full strength,” whenever that might be. However, he did not dispute that he was optimistic about returning before the regular season ends.

12:46pm: The Lakers announced on Thursday that LeBron James has started on-court work, but there’s no specific timeline for his return (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times).

However, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (All Twitter links), James is optimistic he could return in the final week of the regular season and play a few games. Head coach Darvin Ham previously said the Lakers expected James to return before the season ended.

As Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group notes (via Twitter), the Lakers play at Houston and at the Clippers on April 4 and 5, followed by home games against the Suns and Jazz on April 7 and 9. Goon believes the final three games are logic target dates for James, as they’re all in Los Angeles.

James last played on February 26 against Dallas after sustaining a foot injury. On March 2, he was diagnosed with a tendon injury in his right foot and was scheduled to be reevaluated in three weeks, hence today’s update.

Bolstered by trade deadline additions and strong play from Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves, among others, the Lakers have gone 7-5 since James went down with the injury. They’re currently 36-37, the No. 10 seed in the West, but the standings remain extremely tight — only one game separates the Nos. 7-12 seeds.

Getting the team’s leading scorer, second-leading rebounder and top assist man back would obviously be beneficial for the Lakers in their effort to make the playoffs. James, 38, has been limited to 47 games this season, but continues to play at a very high level, averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 36.1 minutes per night

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