After building up all sorts of good vibes in recent weeks, the Lakers saw all of that extinguished over the last 24 hours. LeBron James’ latest injury could hardly have come at a worse time for him or the team as he looks set to miss at least two weeks, according to multiple reports.
It appears LeBron will be out two weeks before being reassessed with a number of factors coming into play at that point.
ESPN Sources: LeBron James’s right foot is expected to be reassessed in two weeks to see how much progress he’s made, but timeline on return expected to extend beyond that checkpoint. Where Lakers reside in standings by then could impact how soon it makes sense for him to return.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 28, 2023
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James (foot) will be re-evaluated after a few weeks and at that time, the hope is to gather a better understanding of what direction to go in which would keep him sidelined additional time, league sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 28, 2023
It’s a gut-punch of a blow to the Lakers, who were building real momentum post-trade deadline and out of the All-Star break and looks ready to make a run at the playoffs. All of that is still possible, but it’s going to be significantly harder without LeBron.
As of Tuesday when these reports began, there has been little detail given about the extent of LeBron’s injury. The most information in that regard came from Mark Medina of NBA.com, as he spoke on Monday to Rob Parker on his “The Odd Couple” radio show.
“I’ve been told that LeBron is definitely out a couple of weeks. Thankfully, this isn’t something that doctors determined he needs to have surgery on. It’s just about needing time to let it calm down, the inflammation. So there is a chance that, not only that he’s coming back this season — this isn’t season-ending — but that he can play through the pain once the initial pain calms down. So, no structural issues but they will get doctors' opinions in a couple of weeks, whether that’s one or two.”
It’s really hard to read any of this and not just be deflated about the situation. For the first time all season and one of the only times in recent years, the Lakers looked fun again and it lasted for all of three games, 1.5 of those even coming without D’Angelo Russell.
That this could ultimately be a pain management type of situation is interesting. Obviously, fans saw on Sunday that LeBron gutted it out and was still effective offensively down the stretch for the Lakers. If the team is still in the running late in the season, would he attempt to gut it out again and try to help the Lakers make the postseason?
On that note, LeBron being out two weeks guarantees he’ll miss at least the next eight games for the Lakers, five of those being at Crypto.com Arena. A three-week timeline adds three more games to those missed.
If he is out three weeks, that means he would return, potentially, with 10 games left in the season. Barring a truly drastic drop-off from the Lakers in his absence, the state of the Western Conference should dictate that they’ll at least be in the running still.
But the mountain for the Lakers to climb to make it back to the postseason is only getting steeper and steeper each and every day.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.