The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into game No. 4 without star forward LeBron James. After James suffered a groin strain on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors, the team has gone 1-2 in his absence. Wednesday, they’ll welcome Russell Westbrook, Paul George and a strong Oklahoma City Thunder team to town for a Western Conference matchup.
With LeBron now set to miss that game, his timeline for a potential return remains very much up in the air. As Christian Rivas of SB Nation cited, Lakers coach Luke Walton revealed that the future Hall-of-Famer was able to get some shots up at practice Tuesday, marking the first time since the injury.
“He’s doing things … treating his injury. He got some shots up today,” Walton said. “He’s working on his body, his game, himself all of the time, but that was the first time I’ve seen him shoot.”
The Lakers started off 0-2 without the James but picked up a victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday to get things trending back in the right direction. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of optimism currently surrounding the timeline for his return still, as the latest rumblings point to LeBron being brought along slowly.
Luke Walton Doesn’t Provide Much on LeBron James
While James is going about his return at a smart pace, there doesn’t seem to be any real idea as to when he could be back on the floor. As Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times first reported, Walton wouldn’t speculate beyond Wednesday’s game against the Thunder. She went on to state that she’d be “surprised” if he returns over the weekend.
To piggyback off that report, Harrison Faigen of SB Nation reported that Walton said he has “no idea” when LeBron will return to the court prior to the Thunder matchup. That’s certainly not an ideal answer from the team’s coach, although he may have just been trying to put the topic on the backburner with a game set to get underway.
Lakers’ Young Trio Leading Way Without LeBron
While the expectation was that Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram would do the heavy lifting without James (as well as Rajon Rondo), that’s proven to be the case. The young trio has done their best to pick up the slack and have looked good in the process. Although the Lakers have taken two tough losses, one of which came on a buzzer-beater and the other a fourth-quarter letdown, there’s still reason for optimism.
Kuzma has averaged 25 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while Ball was one rebound shy of a triple-double in the first game without James. Ingram’s well-rounded lines have impressed as well, with the 21-year-old scoring 22, 17 and 21 points. His best showing came in the team’s win over the Kings, as he scored 21 points with nine assists and seven rebounds.