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LeBron James ruled out, Rui Hachimura expected to return vs. Jazz

After not playing yet in 2024, Rui Hachimura looks set to return, but LeBron James has been ruled out Saturday against the Jazz.

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: The Lakers have officially ruled out LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) for Saturday’s matchup versus the Jazz. James is joining Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) as the only two players unavailable to play for the Lakers.

Original story follows

It’s been a frustrating season for Rui Hachimura as multiple injuries have sidelined him throughout the year. The most recent of those is a calf strain suffered against the Pelicans on New Year’s Eve, subsequently keeping him out of action for all of 2024.

However, it certainly sounds like a return is on the horizon for the forward. Prior to Thursday’s game against the Suns, head coach Darvin Ham provided an update on Hachimura.

“He had a really good morning this morning with the “stay ready” group going up and down a little bit,” Ham said. “So, we’ll see how he feels tonight, how he feels when he wakes up in the morning but another really good day for him. And, hopefully, it’s trending toward him being back out here hopefully next game. But we’ll see. We don’t want to put the cart before the horse but he looked really, really good out there today.”

Obviously, “really good” isn’t a quantifiable amount but the fact Ham is comfortable speculating that he could be ready for Saturday’s game is a big positive.

It’s been a lot of stopping and starting for Hachimura this season. A concussion sidelined him for over a week in early November, a broken nose forced him out for two weeks later that month and this calf strain will force him to miss nearly another two weeks to start January.

The good news is that Hachimura also could return without the mask he’d been forced to wear after breaking his nose. The original timeline would put it around mid-January before he would no longer need to wear it. Hachimura admitted that the mask was impacting his shooting and it took him a while to get a feel for it.

Ideally, Rui had time to heal up from his multiple injuries, can return on Saturday and have an injury-free run the rest of the season while finding his role with the team once more. After proving to be an extremely valuable piece in the postseason, Rui has struggled to find that form again this year.

If he can, it could help the Lakers continue to build on their recent run of strong results over the last week.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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