Just as the Los Angeles Lakers were playing their way toward a signature win this season, a worst-case scenario became a reality when LeBron James suffered an injury. He was unable to return against the Golden State Warriors, but Rajon Rondo helped the Lakers finish their rout.
James was diagnosed with a strained groin, and though there was early optimism he avoided serious injury, general wisdom held he would miss at least a handful of games. Already facing a future without James, the Lakers then lost Rondo to a Grade 3 sprained right ring finger.
Still suffering from pain that prevented him from completing regular basketball actions, Rondo opted for surgery to repair a damaged ligament in the sprained finger. He was projected to miss four to five weeks from the Dec. 28 operation.
He and James have missed the past 13 games (including Sunday against the Houston Rockets), but were both cleared in recent days to return to practice.
According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, Lakers head coach Luke Walton hopes James and Rondo will practice Sunday but that wouldn’t necessarily mean either returns Martin Luther King Jr. Day against the Warriors:
Luke Walton said Lakers will hopefully get Rondo and LeBron on the court for practice tomorrow, but doubts either could get back for Monday against Warriors.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 19, 2019
Of the two, Rondo figures to be the first to return. He was cleared to begin dribbling with his right hand and being permitted to participate in a full-contact practice is indicative Rondo has not encountered any sort of setback.
Meanwhile, James’ recovery just recently reached three weeks. A return by this point would have been considered the best-case scenario.
If neither play Monday, the Lakers’ next game after that point is Thursday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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