LeBron James is “progressing” from the groin injury that has sidelined him for eight games, but he will miss at least three more games, according to the Lakers.
Here is what the team said in its press release:
LeBron James was evaluated by team medical staff and physicians today. The healing of James’ groin injury is progressing and James has been cleared to increase on-court functional basketball movements. A further update will be provided on January 16.
LeBron will miss at least three more games on that timeline, and it could be more depending upon his return.
On the 16th the Lakers travel to Oklahoma City for a game against the Thunder the next night. That starts one of the toughest stretches of the schedule for Los Angeles, 8-of-12 on the road (although one of those “road” games is the Clippers) against some of the best teams in the NBA. The Lakers could use LeBron back for that.
If he returns for the game in Oklahoma City LeBron will have missed 11 games. That’s the same number Stephen Curry missed earlier this season with a similar groin injury.
LeBron injured his groin on Christmas Day against Golden State, and the Lakers have gone 3-5 without LeBron in this stretch, sliding down to the eighth seed in the crowded West. Los Angeles has continued to defend well (6th best in the NBA in the last eight) but the offense has fallen off to third worst in the league. Things have been particularly bad without LeBron James in the clutch (within 5 points in the final 5 minutes of a game), when the Lakers have scored less than a point per possession. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball have not stepped up as the leaders on offense that the Lakers had hoped with LeBron out.