The most recent update we got on LeBron James and his foot tendon injury was on Thursday, when Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported that the star is unlikely to return to the floor for the Lakers until the final week or so of the regular season. On Friday, the word from Brian Windhorst of ESPN echoed that tone.
On the latest episode of his “Hoop Collective” podcast, Windhorst repeated multiple times that James is “not close” to getting back on the floor, despite an originally planned reevaluation of his foot slated for next week (emphasis mine):
“What I’ve heard on LeBron is that he is not close. That was what I was told: Not close. Does that mean he’s out for six months? No... I know that everybody said the three weeks, but I think it was very clear that three weeks is when he is going to get the official reevaluation, it didn’t mean he was coming back in three weeks. I know that LeBron has played through injuries in the past. I’m not 100% sure that this is an injury he can play through.
“Remember a couple years ago when he had that nasty high ankle sprain when Solomon Hill rolled up on him from behind and was basically a wrecking ball to that Lakers season? And he came back for the playoffs and was nowhere near himself, and then basically admitted afterwards that he shouldn’t have been playing, and then completely shut down for the whole summer just to get that ankle right? I wouldn’t rule out that he couldn’t limp back in there for the playoffs like he did there, but he wasn’t himself.”
That’s certainly not an optimistic update, but it’s also a fairly unsurprising one. As we’ve noted a few times now — and as Windy pointed out above — that three-week timeline for reevaluation never meant James would be back on the floor in three weeks’ time. The good news is that not only have we gotten word that James’ foot is “feeling much better” as he does “everything he can” to return to the court in the meantime, but also that the Lakers have nine games left in the regular season after that original March 23 reevaluation date.
That’s obviously not a ton of time, but it does give LeBron some runway to get closer to full health, and as we’ve been saying since the trade deadline: If he and Anthony Davis can stay healthy with this version of the roster and get into the postseason, they’ll have a shot to make some noise. So even if they are “not close” to that scenario right now... they still have some time to get there. In a west that still appears to be very much wide open, that could end up being the only window they need.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.