The Lakers have already announced that the 36-year-old will be out again for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But the Lakers are an even better team when their star man is on the court. And it may not be too much longer before he can rejoin his teammates for game action.
During an appearance on This Just In earlier this week, Brian Windhorst of ESPN had a positive update to share regarding James’ status in his recovery from the abdominal strain.
“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.”
However, Windhorst also noted that James isn’t as young as he once was, and that’s been apparent with some of these recent ailments at this stage in his career. He is in his 19th NBA season and will turn 37 next month.
“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,” Windhorst said. “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.”
Los Angeles is amid a stretch in which it is playing nine of 10 games at home. It has three games remaining in that run; it faces Minnesota on Friday, and it then hosts the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
While James has already been ruled out for Friday, perhaps he’s trending enough in the right direction that he could return before the Lakers go on the road. If not, then it seems likely he’ll at least be back at some point during their five-game road swing that follows this series of home games.
Before getting injured, the four-time NBA champion was off to a solid start to the 2021-22 season. He was averaging 24.8 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds in six games. However, his shooting was a bit down, as he was making only 46.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Considering it’s still only mid-November and much of the season is still ahead, the Lakers may not be rushing James to get back. But once he returns, there’s a good chance he’ll provide the same level of play and leadership he has throughout his time in L.A. as he looks to guide another push to the playoffs.