The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of getting LeBron James back on the court just in time for their final push for playoff seeding. The Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed that James is targeting the Lakers’ May 11th matchup against the Knicks with May 12th likely being the latest the star would return.
“Lakers star LeBron James is targeting Tuesday vs. New York for return to the lineup from sore right ankle, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium,” Charania tweeted. “If not Tuesday, Wednesday vs. Houston is possible.”
James injured his ankle in the Lakers’ March 20th loss to the Hawks and returned to the court on April 30th against the Kings. The Lakers star played in just two games before ankle soreness once again sidelined the All-Star. James last played for the Lakers on May 2nd against the Raptors, and if Charania’s timeline is accurate, he would have been sidelined for an additional week since experiencing complications with his ankle injury.
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KCP on LeBron: ‘He’ll Be Playoff Ready’
The bigger question for James is not his specific return date, but how he will be able to play in the postseason. Barring a dramatic turnaround, the Lakers are headed for the play-in tournament. James’ teammates appear optimistic that he will be the same superstar fans were used to seeing before the injury.
“He’ll be playoff ready,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope noted, per Lakers Nation’s Ryan Ward.
LeBron on Injury: ‘I Don’t Think I Will Ever Get Back to 100%’
Aside from the Lakers dropping in the seeding, there is a reason for concern heading into the playoffs. James’ comments even before being sidelined for a second time with the ankle injury have Lakers fans wondering what to expect from him this season. The Lakers star caused quite a stir by saying he doubts he will ever be at 100% again during his career.
“It’s been urgency for me to get back ever since I got injured,” James noted on April 30th, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “So that’s just who I am,” he said. “You guys could have seen the logging of the minutes and hours per day that I was doing as far as rehab and treatment, it was a lot more than I slept. So over the last six weeks, that’s all I’ve been doing, is having an urgency to get back and play. I knew I wasn’t going to get back to 100%. It’s impossible. I don’t think I will ever get back to 100% in my career.”
It will be interesting to see how Lakers head coach Frank Vogel utilizes James when he returns. The Lakers placed Anthony Davis on a minutes restriction when he came back from his injury, and we could see something similar with James. Vogel recently admitted it is “not an ideal situation” but emphasized that James’ health is a bigger priority than the Lakers’ playoff seed.
“We want him back as soon as possible,” Vogel noted, per USA Today. “But we want him back as healthy as possible. That’s the No. 1 goal. Wherever we end up in the standings, we want him as healthy as possible going into the playoffs. Other than that, we’re just going to compete and try to win as many games down the stretch here.”