Los Angeles Lakers superstar small forward LeBron James has made a final decision on his return from a groin injury.
Senior insider for TNT and Bleacher Report Chris Haynes reported on November 22 that James will make his return to the lineup on November 25 against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers face the Spurs on November 25 and 26.
James has missed five straight games due to a groin injury he suffered on November 9 versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP is averaging 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists on the season while shooting 45.7% from the field, 23.9% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. James is 18th in the league in both points per game and assists per game.
The Lakers are 5-11. They have the second-worst record in the Western Conference standings and the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA.
LeBron Reportedly Wants the Lakers to Make a Trade
James, who turns 38 in December, and the core players on the Lakers reportedly want general manager Rob Pelinka to trade the team’s first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to upgrade the roster, according to a November 10 report from Haynes. James doesn’t want to waste an entire season of his high-level play. The King averaged 30.3 points last season, but the Lakers missed the playoffs.
“Lacking young, enticing assets and draft capital to strengthen the roster, the Lakers are only armed with two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, respectively. James, who turns 38 next month and is in Year 20 of his NBA career, does not want to waste a season of his high-level playing days in hopes of incoming reinforcements for the 2023-24 campaign, sources say. Other core players on the roster would likewise prefer those picks to be used to elevate this year’s team,” Haynes reported. “That’s the burdensome decision Pelinka now faces.”
James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension in August that includes a player option for the 2024-25 season, showing a level of commitment to the Lakers franchise when he didn’t have to. Pelinka told reporters during media day in September that he would do everything in his power to make the roster better around James, one of the greatest players in NBA history.
“Let me be abundantly clear: We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game and he committed to us on a long-term contract, a three-year contract,” Pelinka said. “So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals to give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organization. That’s got to be a bilateral commitment and it’s there.”
Pelinka Is Unlikely to Keep His Promise to LeBron
The Lakers are unlikely to trade their future draft picks this season, per Haynes. It’s not “universally believed internally” in Los Angeles that a trade for Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield would move the needle to title contention.
“With the team’s trajectory trending south, sources indicate the front office is unlikely to attach those picks to a potential trade out of concern that such a transaction would not significantly change the course of the season,” Haynes reported. “It is not universally believed internally that a trade for Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield would move the needle to title contention, sources say. If that concern proved to be accurate, the Lakers would be devoid of lucrative resources for the remainder of James’ contract, which runs through 2024-25.”
James is averaging 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists in a Lakers uniform. He helped the franchise win the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat at the Walt Disney World bubble.