For a handful of games after the All-Star break, there was a genuine spark of hope for Lakers fans. With the team’s trade deadline additions they had improved shooting, defense, secondary shot creation and size around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who were both finally healthy. They looked like a threat in the wide-open West.
Then LeBron James felt something pop and has been out since with a tendon issue in his foot. The Lakers have gone 5-4 without LeBron and hung around in a compact bottom half of the West, but they shouldn’t expect him to ride in like the cavalry anytime soon, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip Real GM).
“From what I’ve heard on LeBron, he is not close. That’s what I’ve been told. He’s not close…
“LeBron is not close to returning from what I’m told. I know everybody said the three weeks, but I think it was very clear three weeks is when he will get an official reevaluation. It didn’t mean he was coming back in three weeks.”
LeBron understands that this team looked like a threat and that he only has so many swings left. He doesn’t want this pitch to go by. However, his 38-year-old body may not give him much of a choice.
Before the return of D'Angelo Russell, the defense of Jarred Vanderbilt and the shooting of Malik Beasley helped give LeBron and the Lakers that hope, there had been rumblings around the league that the Lakers might make a run at free agent to be Kyrie Irving in the offseason. It was always unlikely due to cap logistics, but the league was talking. The Lakers, however, are not talking about that anymore The Athletic’s Jovan Buha said on “The HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto” (hat tip CBS Sports).
“So I do think the Lakers are going to largely run this back with most of the impending free agents that they have…
“From what I’ve been told, they’re not going to be pursuing Kyrie Irving this offseason. Of course, that could change. We’ll see how the rest of the regular season plays out. We’ll see what happens in the postseason if they make it. But to my knowledge, and [from] what I’ve been told, the Kyrie ship I think has sailed.”
Irving with LeBron is a combo that won a ring seven years ago but would be very different now. There would be significant risks.
There are risks with the run-it-back plan too — this team has no margin for error or injury — but the Lakers are leaning into its potential.
Here is more on the Lakers
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Lakers rumors: LeBron not near return, team doesn’t plan to pursue Kyrie Irving originally appeared on NBCSports.com