There have been a lot of whispers and indicators that LeBron James would return to the floor for the Lakers when they took on the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, but it now appears as though he will be waiting one more game before getting back onto the court.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN broke the news:
LeBron James is going to give that right ankle one more day of rest today vs. Knicks -- and target a return on Wednesday vs. Rockets, sources tell @mcten and me.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 11, 2021
The first indication that James might not actually come back on Tuesday came in the Lakers’ own injury report on Monday, which listed James as out. However, given that James had initially been listed as out before his first return against the Sacramento Kings before later being upgraded, there were reasons to be skeptical of that designation.
A return against the Houston Rockets will give James three games to get his legs back under him before the playoffs (or the team’s potential play-in game). However, this approach does track with how much more cautious James and the organization have been about his comeback this time around, so maybe sitting out one more game so he doesn’t play in both ends of the team’s current back-to-back isn’t the worst thing.
Without James in the lineup and the continuing absence of Dennis Schröder due to the league’s health and safety protocols, expect Alex Caruso to continue to play a larger role than normal as the team’s offensive initiator, with Talen Horton-Tucker also counted on for more playmaking. Anthony Davis will also get one more chance to show the world how much better he’s looked lately in a bigger role as he continues to hit his stride before the playoffs.
The Lakers and Knicks will tip off at 7 p.m. PT.