The Los Angeles Lakers were able to end their three-game losing streak by picking up a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, but the ongoing question moving forward for the team is when superstar LeBron James will return.
James has been easily the most important player for the Lakers this season and remains one of the best players in the entire league, but swelling in his left knee has sidelined him for the past four games. Though it seems to be a minor issue, the Lakers are going to be extremely careful in handling this to ensure it doesn’t get worse.
LeBron chose to fly back to Los Angeles before the team’s final game of their road trip to get treatment on his knee and according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, he will continue to do so away from the Lakers with the full support of the franchise, although one form of treatment can be ruled out:
In the practice facility earlier today, LeBron wasn’t here, he continues to do treatment options away from the team. Frank Vogel said he’s a special type of player so we trust him to take care of his body away from our resources. He’s listed as doubtful for tonight’s game, the expectation is that he’ll miss his fourth straight game because of the swelling in his left knee and he’s not gonna play again until that swelling subsides. The Lakers are sticking by that plan, they believe if he plays with the swelling in there, he could be at risk of further injuring himself. I’m told from a source close to LeBron they are exploring all options when it comes to treatment except they’ve ruled out the possibility of PRP. He will not be going with PRP as part of his ramp up to try to get back on the court.”
There is no doubt that James has always done everything possible to keep his body in the best of shape, so the Lakers having trust in him handling this issue away from the team is understandable. As they noted, it is imperative that the swelling goes down otherwise the risk of further injury increases.
Frank Vogel noted before Friday’s game that James will not return until that happens.
“It’s moving in the right direction, but until the swelling is under control, he won’t be out there,” Vogel said.
This has been a rough injury season for the Lakers and LeBron being down once again is the latest setback for this team, but James has the absolute best resources at his disposal and he will use all of them to get back as soon as possible as the Lakers continue to try and salvage this season.
Vogel discusses Lakers lineup issues when James or Davis is out
Of course, the Lakers injury problems, especially those taking out James and Anthony Davis, have forced Vogel to try out some different lineups this season and the coach admits it has been difficult.
“It’s been a challenge,” Vogel said about the Lakers’ inability to have their two All-Stars play games together and its impact on the team’s defense.
“Our bigger lineups don’t have enough shooting to score well enough to win. It’s what we learned early in the season. We’re trying to play with the lineups that we have with more space offensively and hoping we can make improvements on the defensive side of the ball.
“The things that were hurting us we feel defensively are things that we can improve with better habits and better execution and better effort and disposition, which has been there times, but not enough.”
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