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LeBron James has been out for the past two weeks as he's dealt with a right foot injury, and there appears to be both good news and bad news as he worked toward a recovery. The good news, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania on The Rally, is that James' right foot is feeling a lot better, and that he's been seen shooting free throws for the first time since his injury.

The bad news, however, is that there is still no concrete timetable for him to return, and that he's still a ways away. The Lakers reportedly believe that he will need a significant chunk of the remainder of the season to ramp back up. James is set to be re-evaluated in a week-and-a-half, but the expectation is that he will be out beyond then. There are less than four weeks remaining in the regular season.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they've thus far managed a 6-5 record without James since the All-Star break, and while they still have work to do in the regular season, they had at least managed to climb up into the No. 10 seed before Wednesday's game against the Houston Rockets. They also critically gained a tiebreaker over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, which should make it even easier to ensure that they at least land in the top 10 in the Western Conference when the dust settles.

While the Lakers would surely prefer to finish higher in the standings, doing so at the expense of James' health simply wouldn't be worth it. This team has played so well since the trade deadline that it can legitimately believe that, at full strength, it is capable of competing for the championship. The moment James aggravates this foot injury is the moment that hope fades. The Lakers went through something similar in 2021, when James returned from an injury with only two games left in the regular season and proceeded to struggle in a first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns.

In a perfect world, the Lakers will get James back quickly enough to give him several regular-season games with which to ramp up. Then, by the time the play-in round begins, he'd be at full strength. Getting him there is this team's only hope for meaningful contention, so the Lakers will allow him as much time to recover as he needs.