LEBRON JAMES is expected to miss most of March with an injured tendon in his right foot, the Los Angeles Lakers said on Thursday.
If that timetable holds, the Lakers will have to find a way to stay in the playoff race without the league’s all-time scoring leader.
The Lakers did not disclose the full extent of the injury, saying it was a tendon issue and that he will be “reevaluated in approximately three weeks.” If James misses three more weeks, starting with Thursday, that would keep him out for at least 10 of the Lakers’ final 19 games.
James was hurt in the Lakers’ win at Dallas on Sunday. He has already missed two games with the injury, with the Lakers splitting those contests.
“In the short term, we’ll all have to pull in the same direction,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said after his team—without James and Anthony Davis—beat Oklahoma City, 123-117, on Wednesday.
At 30-33, the Lakers are 11th in the Western Conference standings, one game from the No. 10 spot—and the last spot in the play-in round. They’re also just 2 1/2 games back of sixth place, and the final guaranteed playoff spot.
That’s good news, and so is what’s left for the Lakers on the schedule. Only seven of their final 19 games are against teams that currently have records over .500—with several games against other teams jostling for position in the West postseason chase.
The Lakers start a five-game homestand Friday against Minnesota.
James leads the Lakers in scoring at 29.5 points per game. He said at the All-Star break last month that the team’s closing stretch this season would be some of the most important games he has played—noting he didn’t want to miss the postseason for a second consecutive year.
The Lakers are 6-10 without him in the lineup this season, and 24-23 in games he has appeared.
If the timetable does not significantly change, this would be only the third time in James’s 20-year career that he misses at least 10 consecutive games.
He missed a 20-game stretch late in the 2020-21 season with an ankle sprain, and a 17-game stretch in the 2018-19 season with a groin injury. Those stints both came since he joined the Lakers; he never had that long of an extended absence during his times with Cleveland or Miami.
James has logged nearly 65,000 minutes in regular-season and playoff games since entering the league—almost 20,000 more than any other player in that span.
Image credits: AP