To begin a six-game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers reportedly were hopeful about LeBron James returning to the starting lineup.
Considering all of the injuries over the past month, James’ return with the Lakers hovering around .500 and just two games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference was perhaps their best-case scenario.
While James has continued to make progress by participating in longer scrimmages now, the 34-year-old remains listed as out against the Clippers. “It’s health-wise and getting to trust again,” Walton explained following Wednesday’s practice.
“He hasn’t played basketball in a long time. It’s one of those injuries he’s aware of, trainers are aware of, you don’t mess around with. When he and the training staff feel confident he can go full-go and not be at risk for re-injury, he’ll play.”
As for Kyle Kuzma who has missed the last two games with a hip strain, he expressed confidence after participating in the team’s entire practice.
“I’m moving pretty well. Today is the best I’ve felt the past two days I’ve been on the court,” Kuzma said.
When Kuzma suffered the injury the day before playing against the Houston Rockets, his initial mindset was to push through it, but that’s since changed.
“This time it was kind of a serious injury to where I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I can do it.’ Sometimes I’m hard-headed and want to play through things,” Kuzma explained.
“At the same time, you’ve got to think about what’s best for the team. You don’t want to be out there struggling, holding the team back, and individually worrying about having a long career and injuries that could linger and turn into something different.”
Along with Kuzma, Josh Hart is listed as questionable against the Clippers after he received treatment for knee tendinitis. Hart did not participate in any portion of Wednesday’s practice.
While Hart is trying to play through it, he has struggled, especially with his three-point shooting, and may need to take Kuzma’s approach to avoid further injury.
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