The Los Angeles Lakers have been without LeBron James for most of the 2021-22 season. First, LeBron missed time with a sore ankle and has missed substantially more time with an abdominal strain.
The Lakers have been as cautious as possible with LeBron and it is not hard to see why. While LeBron continues to redefine age limits in the NBA, he is still 36 years old and is trying to keep his body ready for the playoffs in six months.
LeBron was upgraded to questionable by the Los Angeles Lakers for Friday and has been given a “50-50” chance of playing in Boston. While the Lakers have not officially announced anything yet, they might be showing their hand with how they are approaching the Celtics game.
The Lakers conducted a shootaround before the Boston game, which, believe it or not, is only the third time this season that they have done a shootaround. This is a team with a lot of veterans with a lot of miles. They don’t need shootarounds as much as a young team.
So why have a shootaround in this game? The theory is that LeBron is returning Friday night and that the Lakers want to get on the same page with the most important player returning to the rotation.
The Los Angeles Lakers need to be as cautious as possible with LeBron James
While we would love to see LeBron James return sooner rather than later it is not going to make much of a difference if he returns on Friday against the Celtics or if he misses another game or two.
Sure, you could make the argument that every game matters in the standings but this is a Lakers team that is playing the long game. The team can afford to drop a game or two if it means making sure that LeBron is 100% ready. The last thing that the team should do is rush him back only to risk him missing more time.
If there is anyone that knows their body in the league it is LeBron, though, and he would not come back if he does not feel comfortable coming back. The hope is that he isn’t getting impatient, especially seeing how poorly the Lakers have started the season.
It will be interesting to see if LeBron is back in action and if he is how the team manages his workload. While the team should be as cautious as possible, it also has to eventually establish its identity and LeBron James is the centerpiece of that.