LeBron James denies return timetable after reports claim he'd play final week of Lakers' regular season

LeBron James hasn't played since Feb. 26. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LeBron James hasn't played since Feb. 26. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

LeBron James could be nearing a return to the court, but it might not be as soon as previously expected.

The Los Angeles Lakers star shed his walking boot and began on-court activities for the first time this week, and reportedly was trying to suit up for the final week of the regular season, according to multiple reports.

Publicly, the Lakers haven't given James a timetable for a return as he continues to recover from a foot injury he suffered Feb. 26. James even denied these reports on Twitter.

The Lakers are knocking on the door of a play-in tournament berth as Los Angeles clings to the 10th seed in the Western Conference with a 36-37 record. Only three games currently separate the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns from the 12th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, so there is a chance the Lakers could sneak into the postseason even without the play-in tournament.

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But they'll need to win some games without James in the meantime and stave off other playoff hopefuls. Including his recent absences, the Lakers are 12-14 and averaged 5.4 fewer points without James on the court. So while the Lakers wait for his return, they'll face the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Chicago Bulls twice, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Houston Rockets and perhaps the Utah Jazz before James is healthy enough to return.

If the reports are to be believed, James will still miss another 5-6 games before he could return for either the April 4 game on the road against the Utah Jazz or on April 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers. It should be noted that their final three games of the regular season are all at home. James missed the past 12 games, during which the Lakers went 7-5.

James first suffered the injury against the Dallas Mavericks on last month when he fell while driving to the basket with 3:17 left in the third quarter. While he returned and finished the game with 26 points, he was seen limping around the arena. James was ruled out for the next game and reportedly would miss "an extended period of time. He later posted a photo on Instagram of his foot and his frustrations.

Prior to his injury, James was averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in his 20th season in the NBA.