The Los Angeles Lakers dodged a bullet as LeBron James’ injury on Christmas Day turned out to be nothing more than a strained groin. Nevertheless, it’s a significant enough injury to keep James out of the game against the Kings on Thursday.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, James could miss even more time, despite the Lakers listing the forward as “day-to-day.” James is receiving treatment in LA but needs to heal before he can return to the court.
James’ absence comes in the midst of more bad injury luck for the Lakers. Rajon Rondo (sprained finger) and JaVale McGee (illness) are both expected to miss Thursday night’s game against the Kings. The Lakers have a short turnaround before playing the Clippers on Friday.
In their absence, Luke Walton will likely trust his young core with Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac expected to start for James and McGee, respectively. Two-way players Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams traveled with the team to Sacramento and could see some playing time.
There is no firm timetable on when James can return. Obviously, the Lakers should be cautious to ensure his health for the remainder of the season. But even a few tough losses while missing the team’s best player could have a huge impact in the Western Conference where the Lakers, sitting in fourth place, are only two games ahead of the ninth-place Kings.