On Saturday, when the Los Angeles played the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron James suffered a high ankle sprain. Since then, the only information that the team has provided publicly is that James will be out “indefinitely.” However, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, they have an idea of how long they’ll be without their star forward:
“The Lakers internally, the Lakers players are saying — and the Lakers are telling other teams — that they think it’s going to be a month. Now, I don’t know if it’s going to be a month... I don’t know, LeBron probably doesn’t even know. Either way, it’s going to be weeks.”
This report gives us a much clearer timeline than the previous report regarding James’ injury, which only said that James would miss “several weeks.” But even this report doesn’t tell us exactly when James will play again, and the chances that any report will before James is cleared to resume basketball activities is unlikely.
What we do know is that the average games missed for high ankle sprains is 10 games, according to Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes, and James missed his first game on Sunday.
Using both of those estimates, it’s feasible that James will return with ample time left in the regular season. That’s notable because the last 15-20 regular season games could be important for James and the Lakers if the team picks up a key player at the trade deadline or in the post-trade deadline buyout market.
Until James returns, though, the Lakers will have to get wins where they can to avoid falling out of the top four seeds in the Western Conference. Going into their game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, the Lakers are only a half game ahead of the No. 4 seeded LA Clippers and 2.5 games ahead of the No. 5 seeded Denver Nuggets, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, LA Clippers and Miami Heat on their schedule over the next nine games.
If James ends up missing only a month, then the Lakers will probably be fine — anything longer than a month is where things have the potential to get ugly.
In other words, get well soon, King James.