Lakers Coach Darvin Ham Issues Strong Statement on LeBron James’ Injury Progress

Lakers coach Darvin Ham (left) and LeBron James

Getty Lakers coach Darvin Ham (left) and LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham issued a strong statement on LeBron James’ injury progress before the team defeated the Orlando Magic on March 19.

Ham said the Lakers expect James to play again this season.

“We anticipate him coming back at some point,” Ham said. “I think Bron, him being out has revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal that we’re trying to achieve. And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”

James suffered a right foot tendon injury on February 26 against the Dallas Mavericks. He recently ditched his walking boot and rejoined the team. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP is averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists on the season while shooting 50.1% from the field, 30.8% from beyond the arc and 75.9% from the free-throw line.

On March 10, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Get Up” that James is “turning over every stone” to play again. Los Angeles’ final game of the regular season is on April 9 versus the Utah Jazz. The top six seeds in the conference automatically make the playoffs, while seeds 7-10 make the play-in tournament. The Lakers, after beating the Magic, jumped into the 10th spot.

“From what I am told, LeBron is turning over every stone he possibly can from a treatment perspective to get that foot in position to return at some point this season,” Windhorst said.

Lakers Beat Writer Talks About LeBron James

Jovan Buha, who covers the Lakers for The Athletic, talked about James’ potential return with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on March 16. LeBron, 38, will be re-evaluated by doctors next week.

“It’s sounding like if he does, it’s probably going to be the last week or so of the regular season,” Buha said. “You hear conflicting things. This has been one of the tougher things to dig on. The Lakers have played this very close to the vest. There hasn’t been much out there on it. A couple of notable developments this week were he returned to the team without the walking boot over the weekend. In between quarters, he was dribbling the ball and shooting layups. It was stationary but didn’t look like a guy who was in a walking boot, limping, and arrived in one of those scooters. He’s already ahead of schedule from that perspective. At shootaround in New Orleans, he was shooting free throws and moving around. The plan is to re-evaluate him next week, which will be about 3.5 weeks since the injury.”

The Lakers are 24-23 this season when James plays. They improved to 35-37 overall after winning against the Magic.

Bleacher Report Has the Lakers in 19th Place in Their Power Rankings

Bleacher Report has the Lakers in 19th place in their latest power rankings. The purple and gold have played above .500 since the trade deadline.

“The vibes had been about as good as they were all season for the Los Angeles Lakers prior to Wednesday’s loss to the Houston Rockets,” Andy Bailey wrote on March 17. “They’d won four of their last five and were 5-3 overall during LeBron James’ current absence. Even with the loss, though, they’re above .500 in this stretch. And it’s pretty easy to explain away the Houston game, since Anthony Davis missed Wednesday, as well.

“The Lakers are still only two games out of sixth place, but three teams are between them and that spot. And potentially conservative injury timelines for LeBron and AD may suggest the team is resigned to being in the play-in tournament. In that case, making sure both are healthy and rested up for the potential elimination games might be smart.”

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