LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were rolling to one of their best nights of the year in their Christmas Day matchup with the Golden State Warriors when catastrophe appeared to strike: James collapsed to the ground on a non-contact injury. The Lakers later told reporters James has a strained left groin and would not return to the game. James is slated to get an MRI tomorrow.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports later reported that James’ injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been, and Dave McMenamin of ESPN said James may be day-to-day:
Yahoo Sources: An initial exam on LeBron James reveals all is intact and that it’s a slight groin strain. It could have been worse.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 26, 2018
The Lakers say LeBron James will not return to today's game. James' timeline for recovery is considered day to day at this point, according to a league source. However, he will receive a MRI which will give a clearer picture of the extent of the injury.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 26, 2018
James was trying to corral a pass he didn’t quite catch, and his right leg slipped backwards as he attempted to reach down and grab the ball. James fell to the ground and instantly started grabbing his groin area.
Afterwards, James could be seen on the ABC broadcast mouthing “I felt a pop” to the Lakers training staff before he walked off the court under his own power but appearing to be in considerable pain.
James had scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds and 5 assists in 21 minutes before he went down.
James missing any length of time would obviously be catastrophic for the Lakers’ hopes of being competitive, and if James is out for an extended period, L.A.’s playoff seeding could be adversely affected in a meaningful way. A team designed to compete and flow around James would seem to be in a tough spot without the main engine of their offense for a number of games, and would likely take a few games to figure out a new way to play effectively without their star.
If James misses games, expect minutes and role upticks for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo, all of whom will try to take on some of James’ team-high 30.5 percent usage rate.
This post will update with more information as it becomes available. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.