Thursday, March 23 2023
Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers
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At 2-9, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled mightily even with LeBron James on the floor this season. But they might have to face their first stretch without him.

In the middle of one his better games of the season Wednesday night against the host Los Angeles Clippers James landed awkwardly while attempting a shot in the fourth quarter and immediately grabbed at his groin. The pain was too great for him to stay on the floor, and he exited the game with left leg soreness and did not return.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham offered no update on the situation when he addressed the media after the team’s 114-101 loss. “We’ve got to let him see our medical staff first,” he said. James missed Monday’s loss to the Utah Jazz due to left foot soreness, but returned Wednesday and played well. In 32 minutes, he finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

James missed significant time during the 2018-19 season due to a groin injury he sustained in the Christmas matchup against the Golden State Warriors. When asked how he felt after Wednesday’s game he described it as an “injury,” but also said that it was “not as bad” as what happened four years ago.

While James, 37, recovered to largely stay healthy during the 2019-20 championship season, he has been dealing with injuries ever since. In 2021, Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill dove into his leg, which caused him to miss almost two months with a high ankle sprain. He wasn’t the same when he returned, and the Lakers lost in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. Last season, he missed games due to a variety of injuries.

The Lakers are among the worst teams in the NBA even with James in the fold. If he is forced to miss a significant period of time, any hope of reaching the postseason would essentially be over. For those looking for a silver lining, thinking that perhaps this could be a blessing in disguise given the anticipation of a rich 2023 draft class, think again. The New Orleans Pelicans have the right to swap first-round picks with the Lakers thanks to the Anthony Davis trade, and the Lakers can’t trade James to a contender because the extension he signed in August forbids any such deal for six months.

In other words, things may have just gone from already quite bad to significantly worse. 



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