Update: The Lakers are listing LeBron James as questionable to play in Sunday’s game vs. the Toronto Raptors. Anthony Davis is being listed as probable.
Update: The Lakers confirmed LeBron James is available to play Friday night vs. the Kings. The King is officially back. Coach Frank Vogel told reporters that LeBron doesn’t have a “hard” minutes limit. This could mean he still won’t play a ton. My guess would be James plays 20-25 minutes tonight depending on how the score looks.
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting close to full-strength. The Lakers are saying that All-Star LeBron James, who has been sidelined since March 20 due to a high ankle sprain, is a game-time decision for Friday night’s game vs. the Sacramento Kings, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. James was considered out indefinitely a few days ago, so things must have changed pretty quickly for him to be upgraded to a game-time call.
Update: Well that didn’t take long. After Woj dropped his report, the Lakers came out and are listing James as questionable to play vs. the Kings.
Lakers star LeBron James has been upgraded to questionable for tonight's game against the Kings. James has been out since March 20 with a sprained ankle.— Jason Anderson (@JandersonSacBee) April 30, 2021
So it sounds like James will test the ankle before the game tonight and may end up returning. Woj hints that it’s more likely LeBron is back in the lineup on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. There must be some sense of urgency for the Lakers to get LeBron back in the lineup considering where they are in the standings. L.A. is in 5th place in the West at 36-26 entering Friday, just 1.0 game up on the Dallas Mavericks. There’s a chance the Lakers could drop down to the play-in tournament with the Portland Trail Blazers only 2.0 games back of L.A.
If James does return on Friday, we can’t expect him to play much. When Anthony Davis returned to the lineup last week, he was eased back into action, playing fewer than 20 minutes in his first two games before being opened up a bit. So if James returns against the Kings, chances are he’ll only play around 15-20 minutes anyway. This means we can expect Kyle Kuzma to remain in the starting lineup and Talen Horton-Tucker and Ben McLemore to get minutes off the bench.
James ($9,900) is pretty expensive on DraftKings. Again, if he ends up playing, we should expect some type of minutes limit. The Kings have been awful lately, a few weeks back, pretty much the entire season, on defense. Kuzma ($6,100) isn’t a bad play because he should play around 25-30 minutes even if James plays. THT ($4,300) and McLemore ($3,400) are good value options if James remains out. AD ($9,100) and Dennis Schroder ($7,200) are good tournament plays.
The Lakers still have the best odds out of the West to win a championship this season at +350 and are the favorites to make it to the NBA Finals at +175. If James can get back into the lineup this weekend, it’ll give the Lakers a few weeks before the playoffs to get back up to speed and playing like the championship squad we saw last year.
James had dropped to +5000 to win NBA MVP this season. We could see that number shift a bit with LeBron expected back in the lineup with a few weeks to play in the regular season. He would have to really go on a tear, but it’s not out of the question James returns and helps the Lakers move up a few spots in the standings before the postseason.