The Los Angeles Lakers face a difficult hurdle early in the 2021-22 NBA season as LeBron James remains sidelined with an abdominal strain.
After an embarrassing loss to the 1-6 Oklahoma City Thunder the last time they played on Oct. 27, the 5-3 Lakers will host the Thunder tonight at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
News emerging out of the Lakers locker room indicates that the Los Angeles team will be without the help of LeBron James for longer than expected.
While James has already been ruled out of playing in Thursday’s home game, the abdominal strain James is currently dealing with will apparently keep him off the court for at least another week.
According to ESPN NBA reporter Dave McMenamin, “a source familiar with the injury told ESPN that the team’s medical staff ‘wants to take their time’ with James’ recovery.”
LeBron James set to miss more time with abdominal strain
James, who turns 37 on Dec. 30, has already missed two of the Lakers’ first eight games of the season due to injury. James missed two straight games due to an ankle injury, including the Lakers’ loss to the Thunder last week on Wednesday, Oct. 27. James suffered that ankle injury during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies when Desmond Bane fell on his ankle following a layup. It brought James to the floor, which ultimately cost the Lakers one of their three losses on the season.
James returned in a revenge game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 29, but mere days later, he aggravated a rectus abdominal strain in a narrow 119-117 Tuesday night win over the Houston Rockets.
Rectus abdominis strain: What is it?
The following is per athletic trainer Terry Zeigler:
"“The most superficial muscle group is the rectus abdominis. This is the set of muscles that run up and down the abdomen and can be seen in athletes who have a low body fat (also known as the much sought after “six pack”). The muscle fibers can be seen just under the skin as they rise and fall from their attached fascial sheath. The rectus abdominis is primarily responsible for trunk flexion, but can also assist in other trunk movements.”"
It seems an injury-riddled James is still struggling even when healthy enough to play. According to ESPN, James is “averaging 24.8 points on 46.7% shooting — his lowest percentage since his rookie year — along with 7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.”
Between the Thursday night game and their Friday night game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers have a total of five games within the next week — all of which could be missing one of the Lakers’ biggest players.