Lakers Lose 2 Key Players to Injuries for Crucial Game Against Warriors

Lakers coach Darvin Ham

Getty Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham looks on during the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz.

Just as when the Los Angeles Lakers are gathering momentum, injuries pile up again.

LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) and Christian Wood (left knee effusion) are both listed as out of the Lakers’ Thursday (February 22) road game against the Golden State Warriors.

Two of the hottest teams in the NBA before the All-Star break, the Lakers (30-26) and the Warriors (27-26) are only separated by 1.5 games in the standings.

James already indicated his uncertain status during the All-Star Week in Indianapolis. His absence during Wednesday’s practice (February 21) was a bad omen.

The 39-year-old James, who sat out the Lakers’ final game before the All-Star game and played limited minutes for the West team on Sunday, still plans to join the Lakers in San Francisco.

“I’m seeking some more treatment [Monday, February 19] going into this week, because we have quite a few days this week as well,” James told reporters on Sunday, February 18]. “We don’t play until the end of the week. See how that goes. But the most important thing for me is definitely my health, where I’m at right now, where our team is leaning. We’re trending in the right direction. Obviously, with our Laker team, it’s been about health all year. Trying to do what’s best for me for the betterment of the team.”

While James is expected not to miss serious time, Wood’s injury is more concerning.

The team announced he will miss approximately two weeks with swelling in his left knee, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Christian Wood Injury Outlook

Two of the most popular sports injury analysts on NBA space on X, formerly Twitter, weighed in on Wood’s injury.

“Swelling in the knee is not a diagnosis, it’s a sign of injury or irritation inside the joint. Specifically an ‘effusion’ is fluid in a joint. Very possible he has something like a meniscal or cartilage tear causing that buildup,” Dr. Brian Sutterer, who breaks down NBA injuries on YouTube, posted on X.

On the other hand, Dr. Evan Jeffries, who owns Evolving Motion Physical Therapy, worried that Wood’s meniscus is causing the swelling in the joint.

Wood’s absence further decimated the Lakers frontcourt, who are already without Jarred Vanderbilt (right midfoot sprain).

The mounting injuries put pressure on Anthony Davis, Jaxson Hayes and Rui Hachimura.

LeBron James Dishes on Warriors Trade Interest

It would have been James’ first game against the Warriors since they tried to pursue him at the trade deadline.

James claimed he was unaware of the Lakers-Warriors trade talks until ESPN reported it.

“It [the trade talks] didn’t go far at all,” James said on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” broadcast before the 2024 NBA All-Star Game on February 18. “I actually heard about it when everybody else heard about it.

“Obviously, you know, Charles [Barkley] has been in the league, Kenny [Smith] has been in the league, Shaq has been in the league… and sometimes, there are conversations that happen behind closed doors that you don’t even know about and until I guess if it’s real or not then they’ll bring it to you. But it never even got to me so I heard it when the reports dropped as well.”

Ultimately, the talks did not advance past the exploratory stage as James’ agent Rich Paul, according to the ESPN report, “told [Joe] Lacob and Warriors GM Mike Dunleavy Jr., that James had no interest in a trade and wanted to remain a Laker.”