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LeBron James out vs. Bucks, but there is ‘growing optimism’ he could return vs. Celtics

While LeBron James will not return from his abdominal strain when the Lakers face the Milwaukee Bucks, he will likely be back for the following game against the Boston Celtics.

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Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James has already missed seven games with the abdominal strain he suffered nearly two weeks ago, and the team says he will miss an eighth on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, there is reason to hope he will be back soon, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that James is looking more and more set to return to the floor for the Lakers shortly.

Wojnarowski reports that the there is “growing optimism” that James could be back on Friday, when the Lakers take on the Boston Celtics.

On Monday night, Frank Vogel simply replied “day-to-day” when asked for the umpteenth time when James might return, but Wojnarowski’s report follows the latest updates from his colleague Dave McMenamin, who has reported that his sources are telling him that James’ rehab is going well and that he’ll be back “soon.”

Before the Lakers’ loss to the Bulls on Monday, Vogel had said that James’ return would be left up to him and his longtime trainer, Mike Mancias.

“We trust him to monitor his own progression in terms of building back to be ready to play, so that will be pretty much between Mike Mancias and LeBron and the rest of the medical team. Obviously as coaches we’ll monitor what that work looks like, but we trust them to make smart decisions on that,” Vogel said.

The Lakers are traveling to Milwaukee on Tuesday, and McMenamin reported the team would not get to practice that day as a result, which means that James would likely not be able to get on the floor vs. his teammates before the game against the Bucks.

On the road, however, teams usually leave for the next city right after their games, which would mean the Lakers could likely have a practice on Thursday in Boston after traveling there late Wednesday night — a potential precursor to a return for James — which could be the reasoning behind the reported timeline from Wojnarowski.

Now, obviously the team will still have to give more updates on his status eventually, but for now, this is a promising sign that the Lakers will get the engine of their offense back soon.

This developing story may be updated with more information.

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