While LeBron James returned to the court on Tuesday, offering some hope and optimism about his rehab and recovery process, it was not a move signaling any sort of return is near. LeBron took part in shootaround for the Lakers ahead of their game against the Pelicans by shooting free throws, the first on-court activity since his injury, but according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, his timeline to a return hasn’t changed.
Charania spoke on The Rally on Tuesday afternoon after LeBron participated in shootaround.
“I’m told (LeBron’s) right foot is feeling much better … the Lakers are bracing as if he will need a significant chunk of the remainder of the regular season to ramp up for a return.”— The Rally (@TheRally) March 14, 2023
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on the status of Lakers star LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/xhsOT1m1PR
Ultimately, there can be some good news that LeBron is still eyeing a potential return, but that doesn’t change how much the team and he will be up against the clock as the season nears an end. The timing of his injury and the timetable of his re-evaluation, let alone his return, always indicated it would be in the very final games of the season.
Tuesday, then, more simply marked the next step in his rehab. While LeBron is working hard behind the scenes to get back on the court, there’s only so much he can do to speed the process along. In reality, this is a frustrating waiting game of letting his body heal.
Fortunately, the team has done much more than just tread water without him as they have moved up the standings and firmly into the thick of the play-in race. In some regards, it adds pressure for LeBron to return and help them in that chase. But having him back for the postseason (potentially) is going to be the ultimate goal of this team right now and it’s the right call.
Tuesday was a step in the right direction, but it’s still a long walk until he’s back into the starting lineup.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.