The Los Angeles Lakers will have to power through without LeBron James for a little while longer. According to a statement released by the team on Friday morning, James won’t travel with the Lakers for their upcoming road trip, and will be re-evaluated in one week.
Using that timeline, the earliest James could return would be Friday, Jan. 11, when the Lakers take on the Utah Jazz, and after the Jazz, the Lakers next host the Cleveland Cavaliers. James will miss at least four games before that opportunity to return against Utah, and if he returned to play his former team he’d have missed five more.
That’s obviously not good new considering how poorly the Lakers have played without James (1-3), but their upcoming slate of games might allow them to stay afloat while he’s sidelined.
Starting on Friday with the New York Knicks, the Lakers’ next four games will be against teams outside of the playoff picture. The Detroit Pistons (17-19) are the only playoff team the Lakers will see in that time, and even they have been struggling as of late.
Any game the Lakers don’t have James for is going to be a coin toss, but there’s reason to be optimistic that the team’s young players will step up and continue to learn from the mistakes they’ve made in James’ absence. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s what they have in front of them.
Until James returns, Brandon Ingram is expected to start at small forward. Over the last four games since James went down, Ingram has averaged 19.3 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.