Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was officially ruled day-to-day after leaving a Christmas Day showdown against the Golden State Warriors due to a left groin strain, but his agent, Rich Paul, recently provided some clarity on the situation.
Paul revealed to The Athletic's Sam Amick on Wednesday that James suffered a Grade 2 strain and that the four-time NBA MVP isn't going to rush back to the court until he feels he's ready:
"We don't give a s--t what nobody thinks or says. We're going to do what's best for him. The best-case scenario was three weeks, the worst-case was six weeks, and we're right on schedule. He'll improve his workload, and he'll be day to day from there.
“Now day to day doesn't mean tomorrow or the next day (he'll be back). Day to day means that after each day of his workload, we'll evaluate it, and when he feels his best he'll play. However long it takes, it'll take. We're not on nobody else's timeline."
Per Amick, Paul made it clear that doctors said a re-injury of the groin would be worse than the initial injury. Knowing that, James and Co. are going to proceed with caution.
Tuesday marked three weeks since James last appeared in a game.
Los Angeles was 20-14 (including a Christmas Day victory over the Warriors) when James was injured. But without the three-time NBA champion leading the way, the team has gone just 4-7 over its last 11 games. As a result, it currently sits in a tie with the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers immediately were viewed as contenders the moment James signed last summer. After all, this was a player who has appeared in eight consecutive NBA Finals with two different teams.
James was averaging 27.3 points on 51.8 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game before being injured. This comes one year removed from the veteran playing in all 82 games—not to mention 22 postseason contests—for the first time in his career.
While Los Angeles has struggled without him and is currently battling to stay in the playoff picture, James continues to look at the bigger picture. Paul told Amick that the 34-year-old allow outside pressure to cause him to deviate from the plan:
"Look, LeBron is in his 16th year, and he’s a proven guy. He doesn't owe nothing to nobody. When he’s ready to be back, he'll be back. It's as simple as that. Until then, he's going to root his teammates on and try to help them as best he can.
"Obviously he cares (about their struggles). The man wants to play. He's f--king itching to play, but he can't put himself in that situation. It's just, you've really got to do the right thing and it has zero to do with his age, or the fact that he's played 16 seasons—nothing to do with that. This is a tendon. It's not a shoulder, or an ankle, or an elbow. The smart thing to do is to do the smart thing. You can't allow media, or the fact that the team might be losing, to dictate what’s best for you, and we won't. He’s progressing. He’s not ready yet."
James has been ruled out for the team's impending two-game road trip, which features matchups against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. He has, however, been cleared to practice with the team starting next week after being evaluated by team doctors on Wednesday.
The six-week mark would come during the first week of February.