LeBron James has missed 19 consecutive games for the Los Angeles Lakers due to a high ankle sprain, making it the longest stretch of games he has missed in his entire career. He recently surpassed the games he missed in the 2018-19 season after straining his groin.
The Lakers have gone 8-11 in those 19 missed games, but have not lost any significant ground in the Western Conference standings. When James was injured, they were the No. 3 seed and have since dropped to No. 5, avoiding the dreaded play-in tournament that many thought they would be a part of.
Now, James’ return from injury is reportedly coming soon, as there is a chance he could return as early as this week, according to Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
James could return as soon as this week, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. James has looked “strong” in his ramp-up workouts on the Lakers’ current road trip, a source told ESPN.
The Lakers end their road trip on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, so it’s unlikely he’s back for that. However, their following game is on Friday against the Sacramento Kings back at Staples Center. Perhaps an April 30 return is still in the cards.
However, L.A. plays a back-to-back against the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets on May 2 and May 3. Perhaps the Lakers would be best served to hold him out until that second game against the Nuggets so that they wouldn’t have to make a decision on playing him for a back-to-back and they can bring him back for a very meaningful game against their potential first-round opponent.
After their winnable stretch against the Wizards, Kings and Raptors, the Lakers play a flurry of Western Conference playoff teams. They’ll likely want to have James back by then to try and figure out their on-court chemistry as they gear up for a deep postseason run.
Dennis Schroder says James is close to returning
Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder did not want to give too much away, but he said after Monday night’s win over the Orlando Magic that James is nearing his return. “I know, but it’s probably the Lakers organization who’s gonna tell you guys. I mean, he’s close, I can tell you that much.
“So we can’t wait for him to get back and help us win games again and be together at the right time with 10, 11 games left and then like I said, get to work.”
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