The Los Angeles Lakers continue to be cautious with LeBron James and his injured left groin.
James will miss at least three more games — Friday at Utah, Sunday against Cleveland and Tuesday against Chicago — and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
"LeBron James was evaluated by team medical staff and physicians today (Thursday)," the team said in a new release. “The healing of James’ groin injury is progressing and James has been cleared to increase on-court functional basketball movements. A further update will be provided on January 16.”
James has missed eight games since sustaining a strained left groin against Golden State on Christmas, and the Lakers are 3-5 in James’ absence.
If James returns against Oklahoma City on Jan. 17, he will have missed 11 games, setting him up to miss his most games since 2016-17 (he missed eight). James has never missed more than 13 games in a season.
Since James’ injury, the Lakers have dropped from fourth place to eighth in the Western Conference. They were 20-14 and are now 23-19. The good news: They’re just two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers for fourth place. There’s time to make up ground in the competitive West.
But it’s clear the Lakers need James on the court, especially with a difficult schedule approaching including games against the Thunder, Clippers, Golden State (twice), Minnesota, Philadelphia (twice), Indiana, Boston and Houston — all before the All-Star break.
The Lakers said they will provide another status update on James next Wednesday, ahead of their game next Thursday at Oklahoma City.
While James, 34, could be in line to return in time for the Lakers' game against the Thunder, he will take a cautious approach and is prepared to be out multiple weeks if that's what it takes to return at 100 percent, a source familiar with James' thinking told ESPN.