With only three regular-season games remaining, the hope was that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James would be able to return to action for Wednesday night’s contest against the Houston Rockets.
James was originally reportedly set to return for Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks but was then ruled out in order to give his ankle an extra day of rest.
While it was reported that he would likely return for the Rockets game, Frank Vogel remained noncommittal about that, saying they will take things one day at a time and see how he’s feeling on Wednesday.
It appears the ankle is still sore as James announced that he will sit out the Rockets game, although he is inching closer towards a return:
Getting close but I won’t be in the lineup tonight but more importantly I will be there to put that CHAMPIONSHIP banner in the rafters at Staples Center in front of our fans!! #No17 💜💛
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 12, 2021
After the Rockets game, the Lakers will have two off days in a row, which will give James some extra time to continue to rest the ankle.
The Lakers will only have two regular-season games left after that though and it’s a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday against the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans, respectively. It’s hard to envision James playing in both of those games, so it’s possible that he goes into the postseason having only one game under his belt.
That makes things awfully difficult on the Lakers, who have struggled to build continuity this season due to so many players consistently being in and out of the lineup due to injuries. If there’s anyone you trust to not need that continuity though, it’s James, who can slide into any lineup and immediately be a positive influence if healthy.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo, James is expecting to play in Saturday’s game:
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James scheduled to make his return Saturday versus the Indiana Pacers. https://t.co/qgaeUgSB31
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 12, 2021
Until that gets confirmed by James and/or the Lakers though, it’s hard to say how accurate it is considering reports came out that he would be returning for both the Knicks and Rockets games, neither of which came to fruition.
Vogel hopeful Schroder will return before end of regular season
One other key player the Lakers have been missing lately is Dennis Schroder, who has been out due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
Similar to James, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is hopeful that Schroder will be able to return before the end of the regular season.
“He’s still engaged in what we’re doing,” Vogel said before Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “We’re really still hopeful that he can return for the final two games or one of those final two games to get a little bit of run before we enter playoff play. He’s limited obviously with what he can do from a conditioning standpoint. We’re just trying to make the best of it.”
Considering James and Schroder are the Lakers’ two primary ballhandlers, any and all minutes they can log on the court before games matter in the postseason will be a huge positive.
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