Los Angeles Lakers short forward LeBron James has made a final decision about his return from a groin injury.
Senior TNT and Bleacher Report insider Chris Haynes reported on Nov. 22 that James will return to the lineup on Nov. 25 against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers meet the Spurs on November 25th and 26th.
James has missed five straight games due to a groin injury he sustained against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 9. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP averaged 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists this season while shooting 45.7% from the field, 23.9% from across the arc, and 66.7% shot from the free throw line. James is 18th in the league in both points per game and assists per game.
The Lakers are 5-11. They have the second-worst record in the Western Conference rankings and the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA.
James, who turns 38 in December, and the Lakers’ core players don’t want to waste an entire season of his high-level game, according to a report by Haynes dated Dec. The King averaged 30.3 points last season, but the Lakers missed the playoffs.
“With the Lakers lacking young, enticing assets and draft capital to bolster the roster, they are armed with only two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, respectively. James, who turns 38 next month and is in the 20th year of his NBA career, doesn’t want to waste a season of his high-level playdays hoping for reinforcements for the 2023-24 campaign, sources say. Other core players in the roster would also prefer to see those picks used to improve this year’s team,” Haynes reported. “That’s the onerous decision Pelinka faces now.”
James agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension in August that includes a player option for the 2024-25 season, showing a high level of commitment to the Lakers franchise when he didn’t have to. Pelinka told reporters during media day in September that he would do everything in his power to improve the roster around James, one of the greatest players in NBA history.
“Let me be very clear: we have one of the greatest players in LeBron James that has ever played the game and he has agreed to a long-term contract, a three-year deal,” Pelinka said. “So of course we’re going to do everything we can, including picking, to close deals that give us a chance to help LeBron get through to the end. He is committed to our organization. That has to be a bilateral commitment and it is there.”
The Lakers are unlikely to trade their future draft picks this season, Haynes said. It is not “generally believed internally” in Los Angeles that a trade between Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield would move the needle to the title shot.
“With the team’s trajectory trending south, sources suggest the front office is unlikely to tie these picks to a potential trade out of concern that such a transaction would not materially change the course of the season,” Haynes reported. “It’s not widely believed internally that a trade between Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and sniper Buddy Hield would move the needle to the title shot, sources say. If this concern were to prove correct, the Lakers would be left without lucrative resources for the remainder of James’ contract, which runs from 2024-25.”
James averages 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists in a Lakers jersey. He helped the franchise win the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat in the Walt Disney World bubble.