Although an MRI revealed LeBron James sidestepped serious injury, the All-NBA forward did suffer a significant left groin strain and the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for him to miss several games, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers are calling James’ absence “day-to-day,” but sources told ESPN there is a healing process that needs to occur before James can return to the lineup.
A timeline for James’ return is further complicated by the fact that he has never had to navigate this severe of a groin injury and still needs to gain an understanding of how his body will respond to treatment. James has displayed a tremendous capacity throughout his career to avoid extended absences with injury, but sources expected the Lakers and James will be careful not to risk further aggravation of the groin by returning too quickly.
James, who left the Lakers’ victory over Golden State on Tuesday with the groin injury, had played 116 consecutive regular-season games; that number jumps to 156 when postseason games are included.
James, 33, is averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists this season. He will miss Thursday night’s game at Sacramento; Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are expected to take on a bigger offensive burden in James’ absence.
The Lakers are 20-14 and holding on to fourth place in the Western Conference. Their next four games — versus Sacramento twice, the Clippers and Oklahoma City — are against teams also in the conference playoff picture.