Lakers News: Luke Walton ‘Would Assume,’ Is ‘Hopeful’ LeBron James Returns Prior To All-Star Game
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Momentum the Los Angeles Lakers had generated and were building on came to a grinding halt on Christmas as LeBron James suffered a strained groin in the third quarter of a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors.

There was early optimism James would not miss much time, but he’s now been sidelined the past 15 games, with the Lakers going 5-10 during that stretch. His absence overlapped with that of Rajon Rondo, who returned Thursday but was unable to lead the Lakers to a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

James has joined the Lakers in portions of practices during the week, however a return date remains unclear. “I’ll see again [Friday] how he’s feeling and we’ll kind of take it from there. I’m not going to throw out weeks or days,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.

“He knows what he’s doing, he’s taking care of his body, and when he’s ready to go he’ll go.”

While James has advanced to running up and down the court, the latest from Walton was that he still had not taken part in contact drills.

It recently came to light that James and his representatives anticipated the ‘best-case scenario’ for his recovery being three weeks. Tuesday will mark five weeks since James suffered the groin injury.

“I would assume he’s back, I’m hopeful that he’s back (by the All-Star Game),” Walton said. “That’s a long way away. If he’s not ready by then, he’s still not ready. It’s just one of those things that we’ll see as it comes.”

While James’ immediate future remains unclear, he was voted to a 15th consecutive All-Star Game and repeated as a team captain.

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