Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has resumed "on-court activity" and has begun a "gradual basketball movement progression," according to the team, via the Los Angeles Times. James has not played since Feb. 26 because of a right foot tendon injury.
Nine games remain on the Lakers' regular-season schedule, and there is no official timeline for James' return to play. Multiple reports, however, indicate that he wants to be back in the lineup before the postseason begins.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that James wants to play in the Lakers' final three games, while The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that James hopes to return in the final three or four games. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there is optimism that he will be able to play in a few regular-season games, and CBS Sports' Bill Reiter has confirmed this.
After the Lakers' update and this reporting, James tweeted on Thursday that "there hasn't been any target date for my return," but he is "working around the clock" in an effort to come back at full strength:
There wasn’t an evaluation today and there hasn’t been any target date for my return. I’m just working around the clock, every day(3X a day) to give myself to best chance of coming back full strength whenever that is. God bless y’all sources. 🤦🏾♂️ I speak for myself!— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 23, 2023
Los Angeles has gone 7-5 in this stretch without James and is 36-37 on the season. It is 10th in the Western Conference, but the standings are extremely messy: Only one game separates the seventh-place Minnesota Timberwolves and the 12th-place New Orleans Pelicans (and only two game separates the fourth-place Phoenix Suns from the play-in).
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The Lakers are coming off two wins in which Austin Reaves scored a total of 60 points on 24 field goal attempts. They will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, after which they have a home-and-home against the Chicago Bulls; road games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz; a "road" game against the Los Angeles Clippers and home games against the Phoenix Suns and Utah.
James has only played three games since Los Angeles acquired D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley at the trade deadline, and Russell missed one of them.