Injuries have already sidelined LeBron James twice in 2021-22, deepening the Los Angeles Lakers’ early-season crisis.
James unexpectedly was ruled out of Thursday’s clash against the Oklahoma City Thunder with an abdominal injury. Head coach Frank Vogel revealed that the 36-year-old All-Star felt an odd, puling sensation in his abdomen halfway through the fourth quarter of the 119-117 victory over the Houston Rockets.
It turned out James suffered an abdominal strain and was initially scheduled for re-evaluation in about a week. Vogel said he hoped that the four-time NBA champion’s injury was “minimal,” although admitted concern over his star’s absence.
The forward is yet to be re-examined this week and sat out Monday’s clash against the Charlotte Hornets, missing his third straight game. It appears there still isn’t cause for concern though as Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that he won’t miss much more time:
“Yeah, this is not a severe injury. He is rehabbing this, and from what I am told, the rehab is going well,” Windhorst said. “He may have to do some reconditioning a little bit, but this is not going to keep him out an extended period. He definitely has shown his age here on some of these muscle injuries like he had with the groin injury two years ago, there’s no doubt about that. But this is not something that is going to dramatically impact his ability. And it’s coming at a portion of the schedule with the Lakers where it’s not that difficult. They haven’t done great, I agree, but this is a time if you’re going to nurse an injury, this is that time of the season, and that’s what LeBron is doing.”
In the last two NBA seasons, abdominal injuries forced players to miss three games on average if no other major health issue played a factor in their absence. However, the Lakers are likely to play it safe when it comes to James’ well-being this early in the season, as Windhorst reported.
In addition to James, the Lakers are also still without Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn and Talen Horton-Tucker, as has been the case all season.
Westbrook: people underestimate impact of Lakers’ injury crisis
Injuries have played a major role in the Lakers’ underwhelming start to the 2021-22 campaign, resulting in a 5-5 record after the loss to Portland.
Russell Westbrook has suggested the early injury wave’s impact on L.A.’s results is understated.
“I think any new team that’s trying to figure it out with lineup changes and things like that, the different obstacles you may face as a team, that’s all normal and I understand that just playing this game throughout the season,” Westbrook said.
“Adversity may start at the start of the season, middle of the season, end, wherever, you never know. But nobody really cares, nobody care that that’s happening, that guys are hurt, guys are not it, nobody cares.”