Lakers’ LeBron James out indefinitely with high ankle sprain

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Already without Anthony Davis for at least a couple more weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers will be without LeBron James indefinitely after he suffered a high ankle sprain Saturday in a loss to the Hawks.

LeBron, who had left the game after being injured, had an MRI which revealed a high ankle sprain.

The injury happened in the second quarter, when in a scramble for a loose ball the Hawks’ Solomon Hill fell into LeBron’s right leg, forcing LeBron’s ankle into an eversion, the opposite of most ankle sprains.

LeBron rolled on the ground in pain for a couple of minutes but did not leave the game immediately. He stayed in and made a corner three, but soon after he checked out and went back to the locker room under his own power. The team quickly announced he would not return. X-rays were negative, but the MRI revealed a high ankle sprain.

LeBron is a notoriously quick healer from ankle sprains — something Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes discussed recently on the Dunc’d on Podcast — but the Lakers will be cautious in bringing him back. For Los Angeles, the focus is the playoffs.

Los Angeles sits tied for second in the West at 28-14, however, it could slip slots in a tight Western Conference in the coming weeks.

In minutes without either LeBron or Davis on the court, the Lakers are outscored by 3.3 points per 100 possessions this season — and that is likely generous because a lot of the minutes without either of the Lakers’ two stars are garbage time. The Lakers role players will now have to go against starting units, and go deeper into their own bench.

With the trade deadline Thursday, this could put more pressure on GM Rob Pelinka to look for a stopgap answer a player who can help the Lakers win some games until LeBron and Davis return. The challenge is the Lakers are already close to the hard cap, have traded away a lot of future draft picks, and have only a couple of young players that would interest teams in a trade (Talen Horton-Tucker, and for some teams Kyle Kuzma). It will be difficult for Pelinka and the Lakers to put together any meaningful trade.

However, with LeBron out indefinitely, every option needs to be on the table for the Lakers.