Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters LeBron James will be out at least a week with a abdominal strain, but a former strength and conditioning coach thinks it could be up to two months, as relayed by Bill Oram of The Athletic.
“Especially the way he plays, it’s tough for me to see him getting back under four weeks,” Tim DiFrancesco said, via Oram.
DiFrancesco was the Lakers’ strength coach from 2011-17. He has seen fair share of similar injuries.
“These are such delicate injuries that can respond to rest with pain relief quickly, but they are highly susceptible to re-injury if returned too quickly,” he said.
DiFrancesco speculated that even the most minor such injury could still take up to six weeks to completely heal.
LA has struggled its way to a 5-5 start, including a 1-3 mark minus James, who also missed a couple games with with a sore ankle.
James is averaging 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in his 19th season. The Lakers themselves have not given an updated timeline on his return.
Oram wrote that the Lakers seemingly are being purposely coy about James’ injury.
“That’s intentionally vague, open-ended and likely misleading, evoking memories of the lack of clarity around the groin strain that knocked James out for 17 straight games in 2018-19,” Oram wrote.
Veteran center Dwight Howard told reporters that the Lakers can’t use James’ injury as an excuse.
“When we’re on the court, we just got to play harder,” Howard said after the Lakers’ loss to the Trail Blazers. “Every possession has to matter. We just got to play harder, that’s it.”