Already without the services of Anthony Davis, the Lakers are now another All-Star forward.
LeBron James will be out indefinitely after sustaining an ankle injury in a March game against the Hawks. Los Angeles may fall into the Western Conference standings along with Davis and James, but the main concern is preparing the dynamic duo for the 2021 NBA playoffs as the team pursues back-to-back titles.
What’s next for James? Here’s everything we know about his injury and the latest news on when he could return to the pitch.
What is LeBron James’ injury?
Early in the second quarter of a March 20 game between the Lakers and the Hawks, Atlanta forward Solomon Hill dove for a loose ball and collided with James. He appeared to roll over on James’ right ankle, and the four-time MVP screamed in pain as he descended to the ground.
James tried to stay in the game and even emptied a 3-point corner when play resumed, but the Lakers eventually called a time-out after it became clear he was struggling to move on the ground. James walked straight back to the locker room, knocking over a chair in frustration as he walked down the Staples Center tunnel. He didn’t come back and the Lakers lost by a final score of 99-94, breaking a four-game winning streak.
The Lakers announced after the game that James had been diagnosed with a high right ankle sprain and will be indefinitely. The x-rays on James’ ankle came back negative, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available for and for my teammates!” James tweeted after the diagnosis. “I’m injured inside and out right now. The road back to recovery begins now. Back soon like I’ve never left.”
Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available for and for my teammates! I’m injured inside and out right now. ??♂️. The road back to recovery begins now. Back soon as I never left. #ThekidfromAKRON??
– LeBron James (@KingJames) March 21, 2021
How long will LeBron James be out?
The short answer: it’s too early to know when James can join the Lakers’ starting lineup. The average time missed for a sprained ankle over the past seven 82-game seasons has been around 10 games according to injury expert Jeff Stotts. However, Stotts noted that a quicker comeback is possible.
From its 2018 blackout Klay Thompson’s high ankle sprain:
The recovery schedule for ankle sprains varies widely depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the damage, the joint involved, and any other injuries that come with it. Treatment for a high ankle sprain is the same as for a normal medial or lateral ankle sprain, but usually takes longer to heal. A big reason for this extended recovery time is related to the disruption of overall stability and the potential enlargement of the ankle mortise.
Los Angeles struggled without surprise when Davis and James sit, but the Lakers are not so concerned about their sowing as they are with a healthy roster heading into the playoffs. They will likely be extremely cautious about James’ recovery schedule.
LeBron James statistics for the 2020-21 season
- 25.8 points per game
- 8.1 rebounds per game
- 8.0 assists per game
- 1.1 steals per game
- 3.8 turnovers per game
- 34.5 minutes per game
- 51.3 percent shooting
- 36.7% 3-point shooting
- 69.9% free throw shooting