As LeBron sat, the Lakers fell further in the standings. Did he wait until he was fully recovered, anyway? Or did he just wait as long as he felt he could before needing to carry the Lakers back into playoff position?
The Lakers are privately a little concerned about LeBron. Is he fully healed from the groin strain that cost him a career-worst 18 games? Is he going to pick up his intensity and propel this team back into the playoffs, as he did last year in Cleveland?
This was the biggest concern about LeBron’s injury. It’s possible to play through a groin injury, but there’s a strong possibility of aggravating it. If LeBron didn’t fully recover, he faces that risk – likely heightened by his need to play his way back into shape.
The Lakers (28-29) are three games and two teams out of playoff position. They have little margin for error. They need LeBron healthy and playing at least near his usual elite level.
I’m not convinced we can take either for granted the rest of the season.