Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — other than a brief two-game return — has missed 26 games since suffering a high ankle sprain in March. Despite countless rumors that he may return to various games over the past week, head coach Frank Vogel maintained that they were going to be careful with their superstar.
Now, it’s possible that he returns on Saturday as the Lakers face the Indiana Pacers. With just two games left in the regular season, the hope was that James would have been able to return sooner. Now, the Lakers will have extremely limited time to play alongside one another before the playoffs begin.
After Friday’s practice in which James participated in, Vogel revealed that the star is questionable for Saturday’s game and they will decide if he’s going to play the day of.
Vogel also previously spoke about James’ status and any potential frustration he’s had from being out for so long. “I think he wanted to be back long before now, but obviously you have to listen to your body,” Vogel said of James.
“Guys have injuries and you have to be out. I don’t know if I’d use the word frustration. I think he’s being intelligent with it, but he certainly wants to be out there as soon as possible. I can tell you that much. He’s very eager to get back.”
James is now as close to 100% as he can be before returning, but Vogel stayed realistic in his evaluation. “I think we’re all hopeful. We can watch him in the 1-on-0 workout and see him moving well and we can be encouraged by that and we’re all eager to see him out there, but you have to be realistic that this is a high-ankle sprain and things don’t go away quickly.
“I don’t know what percent he’s going to be at, but it’s a challenge to recover from this type of injury going into important games like we’re going to go into.”
Regardless of whether or not James actually makes his return on Saturday, this will be by far the longest absence of his career. James has always been the type to play through pain but was simply unable to this time, likely pointing to the severity of the injury.
It will be fascinating to see how James looks in his eventual return and how well the team can mesh around him. James won’t be the only reinforcements returning to action just in time for the playoffs.
Schroder hints that he will play Saturday
After spending the last two weeks in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Dennis Schroder could be nearing his return as well. Vogel had often said that he hoped Schroder would be available for their final two games, and now it appears very possible.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!