Report: LeBron James could return next week from sprained ankle

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LeBron James has missed 18 games with a high ankle sprain. There’s been no official update on his status for a while, and the unofficial buzz around the league has always been his return was “weeks” away.

Well, “weeks” may have just become next week.

Before the Lakers’ loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said LeBron could return as soon as next week.

“You’ll see Anthony Davis still be on that 15-minute restriction in his second game back tonight, but that’ll start ramping up as we get closer to LeBron James’ return, which could be as soon as the following week.”

The initial and unofficial timeline for LeBron’s return was 4-6 weeks, and we are just passing the four-week mark. The Lakers have gone 7-11 without LeBron, including losing their last three, with the second-worst offense in the NBA over that stretch (stat via Cleaning the Glass, which filters out garbage time). The Lakers slid down the standings but have held on to the fifth spot in the West so far. Los Angeles’ primary concern is just to have its stars healthy for the postseason; after that, the team just wants to avoid the play-in games. After that, seeding will not matter much to them.

Davis played 28 minutes in his second game back, scoring 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting.