The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled without their leading man, LeBron James. Since he went down with a groin injury on Christmas Day, the Lakers are just 4-7 and are barely clinging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
And while LeBron has been making good progress in his recovery -- according to a press release from the franchise, LeBron has been cleared to return to practice next week -- they might not want to get their hopes up about a return any time soon. LeBron's agent, Rich Paul, made it clear in a recent interview that LeBron won't be rushing back from this injury. Paul said that LeBron is "day-to-day," but noted he won't be back until he's fully healthy. Via The Athletic:
"We don't give a sh-- what nobody thinks or says," Paul said via phone. "We're going to do what's best for him. The best-case scenario was three weeks, the worst-case was six weeks, and we're right on schedule. He'll improve his workload, and he'll be day to day from there.
"Now day to day doesn't mean tomorrow or the next day (he'll be back). Day to day means that after each day of his workload, we'll evaluate it, and when he feels his best he'll play. However long it takes, it'll take. We're not on nobody else's timeline."
"Look, LeBron is in his 16th year, and he's a proven guy," Paul continued. "He doesn't owe nothing to nobody. When he's ready to be back, he'll be back. It's as simple as that. Until then, he's going to root his teammates on and try to help them as best he can."
This makes complete sense. There's simply no reason for LeBron to try and get back out onto the court before he's completely ready, no matter how much the Lakers are struggling.
Los Angeles will try to get things back on track without LeBron in the lineup once again on Thursday night when they square off against the Thunder (9:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass extension).
Obviously, the team needs him, but they need him at 100 percent -- especially come the postseason -- and the risk of LeBron re-aggravating his groin is much worse than the risk of them falling further down the standings while he's on the bench.