The Los Angeles Lakers could potentially be losing LeBron James for much more time than anticipated, which has some fans a bit panicked.
The Los Angeles Lakers have already been without LeBron James for longer than anyone expected. When it was revealed that James had just a sprained groin after his Christmas Day injury, it was a safe assumption that he would be back shortly after the new year.
However, that is not the case. James has been out well past the new year and, at best, won’t be back in action until Jan. 17 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That would mark over three weeks of James being out of action.
It gets worse, though, as James is in no hurry to return to action. Sources familiar with James’ thinking told ESPN that he is willing to miss even more time if it means coming back at full strength. That could mean another week to up to a month (h/t Silver Screen and Roll).
It is completely understandable why that would be worrisome for Laker fans. The Los Angeles Lakers have not played as expected with James out and need his veteran leadership to get anywhere in the playoffs.
While he will undoubtedly be back before then, this does raise the question of if Father Time has finally caught up to James and he can no longer heal at a superhuman level. Five years ago and James likely would have been back in action by now.
Those concerns are understandable. When your team brings in the biggest star in the NBA for four years, the last thing you want is for him to get hurt in year one and gradually decline. We saw how quickly injuries affected Kobe Bryant‘s late career.
However, LeBron taking his time to get back in action is just fine, in fact, this is actually better for the Los Angeles Lakers both in the short and the long term.
In the short term, this prevents James from coming back too early, getting hurt again or simply not playing to his full capabilities. Risking injury in January and February would be asinine.
For the long term, this gives the Lakers young core more time to learn how to win without James and to teach these guys how to be leaders. We have already seen some improvements since James has been out and that has to continue.
This will give the Lakers front office a great idea of if this core can dethrone the Golden State Warriors or if the team is going to have to pull the trigger on a move for Anthony Davis. If the team thinks the young core won’t progress in time, it is time to make a move.
Sure, it might hurt a tad in the win-loss column but the Lakers have plenty of season left to will their way back into the top-eight to get into the postseason. The Western Conference is so tightly contested anyway that it is not much of a concern at all to fall too far out of the playoff picture.
In many ways, this injury is a blessing in disguise for the Los Angeles Lakers. Let’s just hope it does not have long-term implications on James’ production or health.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News