One month since the Los Angeles Lakers came away with an impressive Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James has not returned from a groin strain.
As the 34-year-old has already missed 15 games, it is the most consecutive games he has been out through his 16-year career so far.
While James has ramped up activity since being cleared for return to practice on Jan. 16, head coach Luke Walton ‘would assume’ and is ‘hopeful’ he returns before the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, NC.
With there being some uncertainty now, James could have a target return date in mind, according to Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective:
“I heard (Thursday) seven to 10 days (for James’ return).”
Based on this timeline, James will not play against the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers but could return at the start of the team’s six-game road trip against the Clippers.
Although the Lakers have lost 10 out of their last 15 games without James, they are still keeping pace in the Western Conference. At 25-24, they are only 2.5 games back of the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz, but things can quickly change.
If James does not return against the Clippers and the Lakers continue to extend their three-game losing streak, they will be in danger of missing the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. However, president Jeanie Buss says they will not ‘take a shortcut’ with a ‘quick fix’ just to get there.
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