Through the early part of the 2021-22 season, the Los Angeles Lakers have already faced their fair share of adversity as injuries have begun to really take their toll on the roster.
Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn are still on the shelf with thumb and knee injuries respectively, while Rajon Rondo and Austin Reaves were forced to miss recent games with strained hamstrings. Of course, the biggest loss has been LeBron James, who has now missed five consecutive games as he rehabs from an abdominal injury.
While the Lakers have managed to win a few games without James, there’s no doubt that they will need him to get where they want to be. The good news is it sounds like the 36-year-old could be making his return soon as head coach Frank Vogel revealed he is back to on-court activity.
“His rehab is progressing nicely,” Vogel said before Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “He’s back to doing on-court basketball activity and this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an extended stretch. He’s to be considered truly day-to-day.”
The initial expectation was that James would be out for about one to two weeks, so this update from Vogel is within that timeline. There were some reports that James could actually miss more time than originally anticipated, but it appears the injury is not serious and the training staff is being conservative with bringing him along.
While it has been frustrating to see injuries rob Los Angeles a chance to gel together as a team, no one on the roster is feeling sorry themselves and have simply attacked the regular season with a next man up mentality.
As they have shown at times, guys should be able to step up when needed and they will need to continue to do so until James and the others are back and healthy.
As for when James will make his anticipated return, he could conceivably make his way to the lineup as soon as Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs or the following day against the Chicago Bulls.
Russell Westbrook calls for Lakers to compete despite injuries
Despite his turnovers, Russell Westbrook has begun to come on for the Lakers in James’ absence and it is needed given his role as a leader on the squad. While it would be easy for the team to roll over until James returns, Westbrook called for his teammates to compete despite who is in or out.
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!