LeBron James has played in just six of the Los Angeles Lakers 16 games this season. The rectus abdominis strain he suffered on Nov. 2 has kept him out for over two weeks, but there was recent optimism that he could be nearing a return.
The Lakers desperately need him back, as their makeshift lineup is 3-5 since James’ injury and are 4-6 overall when James does not play. While acquiring Russell Westbrook led to hope that they would be able to survive games where James misses, the multiple other injuries plaguing L.A. have made it even more difficult on him and Anthony Davis.
Now, James is getting closer to a return, as there is legitimate hope that he will play on Friday when the Lakers face the Boston Celtics, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I hope,” James told ESPN on Wednesday when asked if he would play against the Celtics after missing the past eight games and 10 of L.A.’s 16 games because of injury. “I hope.”
While Lakers coach Frank Vogel said James is “day to day,” sources close to James told ESPN that there is a “50-50” chance he will be back in the lineup at the TD Garden.
The Lakers — and especially head coach Frank Vogel — have been noncommittal on anything regarding James’ return, however. “I was hoping he was going to play each of the last seven games or whatever it’s been since he’s been out. I always hope he’s going to play. I’m always optimistic. He’s still day to day. No decisions are made.”
This is the tone Vogel has had for over a week now, as rumors were circulating that he was nearing his return. If James does come back, it can hugely help their case for the remainder of their five-game road trip. After a well-fought, but difficult loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they still have four more road games before heading back to Staples Center.
If he is deemed unable to return against the Celtics, the Lakers face the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers to close out the cross-country trek. Perhaps James will make his return for one of those matchups.
Vogel sees Talen Horton-Tucker starting when James returns
It may not have been the original plan, but the scorching start from Talen Horton-Tucker in his first three games back from injury have made Vogel rethink his starting lineup when James eventually returns.
There have been no finalized decisions, but there’s no denying that Horton-Tucker has looked like a star since returning from his thumb injury. At this point, it would be difficult to see him getting relegated to a bench role.
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!