LeBron James Set to Return To Practice After Injury lay-off

LeBron James, sidelined since Dec. 25 with a groin strain, will remain out until at least next week, the Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday. The team said in a statement that James did not travel with the Lakers on their current road trip for games against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

The Lakers have struggled without James — and without Rajon Rondo, their backup point guard, who was also injured in the Lakers’ road win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Entering Thursday, the Lakers had gone 4-7 without those two players and were tied with the Sacramento Kings for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

After their current trip, the Lakers will return home to play the Warriors on Monday — which, incidentally, is slated to be Game 2 of the warrior’s publicised Demarcus cousin’s experiment as he returns from surgery on his Achilles’ tendon — but it is highly unlikely that James will be available. The Lakers said in their statement that James “has been cleared to return to practice commencing next week, and progress toward a return to game play thereafter.”

Lebron James was re-evaluated on Wednesday, which is the three-week mark since he injured his groin against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. After the re-evaluation, the Lakers announced James was cleared to return to practice next week. The Lakers have not yet ruled out James for their rematch with the Warriors .

“He didn’t do the up-and-down stuff, he did the half-court shooting and passing,” Walton said after shootaround. “I just know he seems to be in good spirits. He’s got another test tomorrow to get some more information on it.

The injury has proven to be one of the most significant of James’ career. If you include this week’s games against the Thunder and Rockets, James will have missed 13 games because of the injury. Prior to this stretch, James had never missed more than 13 games in a row during his 15-year NBA career. The Lakers and Lebron James, who turned 34 last month, are being prudent with this injury to a star famous for playing through all types of physical ailments, both major and minor. He has never missed a playoff game despite innumerable minor knocks, and he played in all 82 games for the Cavs last season while leading the NBA in minutes played in both the regular season and the postseaso.

Lebron James, 34, had been fairly indestructible thus far in his career. He appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. But while the Lakers initially listed James as “day to day” after he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam last month, the team has been handling him — and his eventual return — with caution.

James was playing some of the best basketball of his career before he got hurt, averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists a game. A four-time N.B.A. most valuable player, he is in the first year of a four-year contract worth $154 million.


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