After being sidelined for multiple weeks due to an abdominal strain, LeBron James will be returning in the very near future. The Lakers have officially listed James as questionable for Friday’s game, the first time he’s been listed as anything other than out since being sidelined with an ab strain, and at the team’s third shootaround of the season on Friday, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters that his star would be a gametime decision.
LeBron James is a game-time decision tonight, per Frank Vogel.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) November 19, 2021
This is unsurprising, as while all previous signs seemed to point toward Friday’s game in Boston against the Celtics as the likely target date for his return, the team is still be playing their cards close to the vest.
After Wednesday’s game against the Bucks, Dave McMenamin of ESPN provided some more insight into James’ status for the game on Friday. The star himself told ESPN “I hope” when asked if he would play on Friday, and McMenamin’s sources said there was a “50-50” chance that James will be back.
New story: LeBron James is inching towards a return from an abdominal injury. Sources tell ESPN it’s “50-50” that James plays in Boston on Friday https://t.co/7ed7DWRjRi— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 18, 2021
Vogel himself provided his own regular update/non-update on James after Wednesday’s game, reiterating that his star is still considered “day-to-day” by the team, and that a Friday was not set in stone just yet.
“I was hoping he was going to play each of the last seven games or whatever it’s been since he’s been out,” Vogel said. “I always hope he’s going to play. I’m always optimistic. He’s still day-to-day. No decision has been made.”
James did do more extended work on the court prior to Wednesday’s game as he continues to ramp up his activity for a return.
LeBron James remains out against Milwaukee but is getting his pregame work in with Phil Handy. This will mark the eighth straight games James has missed since Nov. 2 pic.twitter.com/NZ88L33lD6— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 17, 2021
“I leave that to the medical team,” Vogel said of James’ status. “I know he did some work today. I haven’t gotten the reports on how that went yet, but I’ll leave that between him and the medical team to make those decisions as to when he’s ready to go.”
James has missed the last eight games for the Lakers, having last taken the court on Nov. 2 against the Rockets. During that span, the Lakers are 3-5 without James, with three of those losses being by double digits.
While he’s obviously a very important piece of the Lakers, James and the team are taking things slow with his return. But while Friday’s target date may not be a certainty, it certainly seems like James’ return is inevitable, and could very much happen on a road trip that spans four more games.