The Los Angeles Lakers recently fell to 3-7 without LeBron James, but the team isn’t the only entity that his groin injury has been difficult on.
James has never missed this much consecutive time in his entire career, making the significance of this injury and the frustration of not being able to help his team a literally unprecedented experience for the star.
That’s probably not easy, but James told Joe Vardon of The Athletic that he’s doing his best to cope:
“I’m handling it as well as I can,” James told The Athletic on Sunday, on his way to get in some running before the Lakers-Cavs game.
That’s good to hear, because it sounds like James may not be swooping back in to save the Lakers right away.
James is set to be reevaluated on Wednesday, meaning he’ll miss the Lakers’ game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night — a game which, if lost, could possibly leave Lakers head coach Luke Walton on the hot seat.
Even if the Lakers win, all signs are pointing towards James sitting out another week after Wednesday, or at least a little longer than the initial three-week timetable he and his team were reportedly given for the injury.
That’s not great news for the Lakers, whose aforementioned 3-7 record without James has dropped them into ninth place in the Western Conference at 23-21 overall, leaving them out of the playoff race (at least temporarily).
Getting James back would fix a lot of the problems the team has displayed in his absence, but even if watching the Lakers struggle has been tough, James can’t rush back from a groin injury and risk re-aggravating it, especially not at age 34 when he has to be more careful with his body than ever. James coming back sooner than doctors recommend wouldn’t be in his or the Lakers’ best long-term interests.
James and the team will have to wait and see how his check-in with doctors goes on Wednesday, but as hard as it might be, they have to be cautious, even if the team continues to flounder without its star.
The Lakers have James for at least two more years after this one, and possibly three, and because of that reality have to be extremely careful to make sure James’ struggles to stay off the floor don’t lead to more struggles for him and the organization long term.