LeBron James out Thursday, could return Sunday
LeBron James took part in some drills with the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday, but his return from injury will not come Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton made the announcement about James’ imminent unavailability, adding that James conceivably could play in Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, per tweets from The Athletic’s Bill Oram.
“He got out there with the guys and did some drills,” Luke Walton said. Everything has been non-contact so far. As for Sunday against Phoenix, Walton said, “He’s not (ruled) out yet.”— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 23, 2019
While James is out Thursday vs. the T-Wolves, Rajon Rondo is expected to return after missing the past 14 games following surgery on a ligament in his right ring finger. Walton would not guarantee a timeline for either star, however.
“He’s not out yet for Sunday,” Walton said of James, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I guess that puts it in play. With him and Rondo, it’s going to be, again, how he’s feeling tomorrow morning and take it from there and see how he’s doing the next day after that and the next day.
“When they feel ready to play, then they’ll play.”
By sitting out against Minnesota, James will have missed 15 games since suffering a left groin injury during a Dec. 25 victory over the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers have gone 5-9 in his absence heading into Thursday’s game.
The Lakers (25-23) have slipped from No. 4 to No. 9 in the Western Conference during James’ absence. Rondo did note that with 34 games remaining in the season and James’ return imminent, there’s no reason to panic just yet.
“Well, we’ve got LeBron, so … I don’t know the last time he missed the playoffs,” Rondo said of the Lakers’ playoff prospects.
James has not missed the postseason since his second season, a run of 13 consecutive playoff appearances, which includes eight straight trips to the NBA Finals.