LeBron James injury update: Lakers 'a little concerned' about the health of the All-Star, per report

The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in the thick of the playoff race in late December before LeBron James suffered a groin injury against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.

James missed 17 consecutive games and the Lakers are now on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. According to a report from Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the team is privately a little concerned about James' health this season because of the enormous amount of pressure that will be on his shoulders.

The Lakers are privately a little concerned about LeBron. Is he fully healed from the groin strain that cost him a career-worst 18 games? Is he going to pick up his intensity and propel this team back into the playoffs, as he did last year in Cleveland? James, 34, is actually averaging a triple double for the Lakers since his return from injury (23.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 11.0 assists), but he's just not moving at the same speed nor is he engaging at the point of attack. That fourth-quarter moment in a loss to the Hawks on Wednesday in which Trae Young switched onto LeBron, and instead of taking the much smaller Young off the dribble LeBron casually threw the ball to Brandon Ingram in the corner? There are several examples like this.

After all of the rumors concerning their pursuit of Anthony Davis, the Lakers were relatively quiet at the trade deadline earlier this month. The only move that the organization made was acquiring Mike Muscala from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley, who was ultimately waived.

Since returning to the lineup this month, James is averaging 23.0 points, 11.5 assists, and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. James had scored 28 points in two of his final four games heading into the All-Star break, but the Lakers lost three of those four contests.

The Lakers currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with a 28-29 record and are three games out of the final playoff spot. As always, it's a very crowded picture in the West with the four through eight seeds being separated by just three games so while LeBron and company have their work cut out for them, they are still within striking distance of a top-eight seed. 

Injuries have certainly played a role in Los Angeles' struggles with James missing a significant stretch. In addition, Rajon Rondo has missed 32 games this season due to multiple hand injuries while Lonzo Ball is currently out of the lineup with a sprained ankle. If the Lakers are going to make a charge towards the postseason, James is going to have to play a huge role and it appears that this fact is something that has management concerned as the second half of the 2018-19 season gets underway on Thursday night against the Rockets (10:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass add-on).

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