Beyond being arguably the best player in the NBA for over a decade, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has also been an iron man. In 18 seasons, James has only missed more than 10 games twice, but it appears he’s heading for his third.
On Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, James suffered a high ankle sprain after Solomon Hill ran into his leg diving for a loose ball. It could have been a lot worse, but a high ankle sprain is not a simple injury, and it could leave James sidelined for quite some time.
Reportedly, James is expected to miss several weeks with his injury, but it could be shorter if his pain level goes down significantly, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Lakers star LeBron James is initially expected to miss several weeks due to his high right ankle sprain, sources say. High ankle sprains tend to range in missed time but usually last multiple weeks. James is not an ordinary player, though, and has an uncanny pain tolerance. At 36 years old, James and the Lakers are sure to be cautious with his return and allow him to return based on his response to treatment — which could be sooner than later.
Given the Lakers’ caution with Anthony Davis, it’s unlikely they let James come back any sooner than three weeks unless he truly proves to be healthy before then.
If James is out three weeks from Monday, L.A. could see a potential return on April 15 against the Boston Celtics in the Lakers’ first game back after a seven-game road trip. Should he return on that day — which is pure speculation — that would leave him sidelined for the next 12 games.
That sequence involves many winnable games, but also some extremely difficult ones against top contenders. This puts significant pressure on players like Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma to figure things out without James and Davis on the floor.
Frank Vogel says James’ injury may affect trade deadline
The injury to James came just five days before the NBA trade deadline. The Lakers were not expected to be active at the deadline due to a lack of cap and asset flexibility, however, Frank Vogel says that plans may have changed now.
“We’ll get into deeper conversations in the coming days. Obviously, when you have two key guys that are going to be out, you look at the trade market differently and you look at the buyout market differently. Those are the conversations we’ll have in the coming days.”
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!