Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James started the 2021-22 season in great form, but injuries set the four-time NBA champion back and have already ruled him out of eight games this year.
James missed two Lakers outings with a twisted ankle in October before suffering an abdominal injury in early November, which he has been nursing ever since. L.A. has a 4-4 when the 36-year-old forward watches games from the bench.
But head coach Frank Vogel has revealed that James is close to making his return. The Lakers All-Star is back doing on-court basketball drills and seems to have responded well to increased physical activity.
However, Vogel wasn’t sure whether James would need to go through a full practice session before coming back to L.A.’s starting line-up. “I don’t know yet,” the coach said.
“But he looks good, he’s moving. He hasn’t done a full practice or contact yet but he’s looking good, moving around in his individual work.”
Vogel added James’ status for Monday’s clash against the Chicago Bulls remains “day-to-day.”
The Lakers are finally turning the corner after an early injury crisis derailed their start to the new campaign. Talen Horton-Tucker made his season debut on Sunday after nursing his thumb injury since the preseason.
The 20-year-old guard jumped right into the starting line-up despite missing the last few weeks recovering from his preseason surgery.
Vogel expects to continue ‘evaluating’ Lakers’ starting line-ups
The Lakers have played with six different starting line-ups so far this year. Injuries and the offseason roster overhaul have forced Vogel to experiment with the personnel at his disposal.
And, the head coach said the experiments will carry on, depending on L.A.’s opponents on a given night.
“All of our players, we’re evaluating everybody right now,” Vogel said. “We got a lot of new guys and we’re finding out what guys can and cannot do. Some of that involves lineups.”
And he added: “So you take a game where you think there’s an opportunity to do that and you take advantage of that and we’re exploring what those lineups look like, continuing to explore our big lineups and just evaluating everything right now.”
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