After playing the first 29 games of the 2019-20 NBA season, LeBron James did not play against the Denver Nuggets due to a thoracic muscle strain and ‘nagging’ groin issue.
As the 34-year-old will play as long as he is healthy in his 17th season amid the load management debates, he returned against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas.
However, early in the first quarter, James tried to take a charge on Patrick Beverley but got kneed in the groin area.
While James continued to play, he admitted the collision impacted him, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James said after finishing with 23 points on 9-for-24 shooting, with 10 assists and 9 rebounds. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
Although the injury is not on the same side as the previous one against the Golden State Warriors last season, some have approached James about resting until he is healthy:
Even though the Lakers are now riding a season-worst, four-game losing streak, several members of the organization already have approached James about the urgency to sit out and rehab his groin injury until he feels fully recovered, sources told ESPN.
In the 111-106 loss to the Clippers, James was clearly not himself. Despite a near triple-double performance (23 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists) in 39 minutes, he was 2-of-12 from the three-point line as he could not drive.
Since the Lakers still have a two-game lead in the Western Conference, it makes sense for James to get completely healthy. Although the Lakers have lost four consecutive games and did not want to lose back-to-back games, the ultimate goal is winning the 2020 NBA Finals in June.
In order to reach that goal, James needs to stay relatively healthy. With the Lakers facing another back-to-back situation against the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, it will be interesting to see if James plays.
Through 30 appearances, James is averaging 25.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 10.6 assists while being one of the leading candidates for the 2019-20 NBA MVP award.