The Los Angeles Lakers were dealt a tough blow on Tuesday after star forward LeBron James tested positive for COVID-19. James will miss at least more than a week, pushing the Lakers into a challenging spot again. However, his latest absence could become a blessing in disguise.
LeBron James tests positive for COVID-19
Lakers pushed their way back to the .500 mark after inching past the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
However, hours before taking on the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, James tested positive for COVID-19. It immediately resulted in him flying back to Los Angeles, where he will miss at least 10 days due to the league’s health and safety protocol.
It’s a significant blow beyond the basketball court as James is dealing with a virus that has impacted millions across the globe. However, his extended absence could have a beneficial effect on the Lakers moving forward.
LeBron James’ untimely absence may be a blessing in disguise for the Lakers
The Lakers will certainly miss James’ presence, but the extended absence may have another beneficial silver lining.
The four-time league MVP missed eight consecutive games due to an abdominal injury. After returning, James performed well with three straight 30-point performances before he tested positive for COVID-19. However, he notably experienced an abdominal issue late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Pistons.
In the on-court postgame interview, James attempted to quiet those concerns, but it’s clearly a matter he’s still working his way through.
‘Yeah, I’ll be alright,” James said. “I am still working through it. It’s my third game back since the injury. Every game it’s getting better and better, but every now and then I feel it a little bit down there. It didn’t linger too much and that’s a good thing.”
The additional time off may provide him the rest needed to finally get past the lingering issue. If the Lakers hope to vie for the 2022 NBA title, James must lead the charge.
In the interim, his absence is another gut punch, but it may benefit Los Angeles greatly in the long run.
Lakers possess a favorable schedule ahead
Although it’s extremely encouraging that the 36-year-old is asymptomatic, he will miss at least 10 days.
It will keep him sidelined for the next four games after Tuesday’s win over the Kings. Los Angeles plays its next two contests at home against the LA Clippers on Friday and Boston Celtics on Dec. 7.
The brief stretch ends with a two-game road trip featuring a back-to-back set facing the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 9, then the Oklahoma City Thunder the following night. Outside of facing the Clippers for the first time, the Lakers hold a 1-3 record against their other opponents, with the lone win coming against the Grizzlies.
Los Angeles may not hold an encouraging record, but it’s a favorable slate of games against teams struggling to find their footing. The Clippers have lost three out of their last four games, while the Celtics have performed inconsistently behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Grizzlies are without star point guard Ja Morant, who will miss at least the next couple of weeks due to a sprained knee. The Thunder have two wins over the Lakers, but they have lost their last six straight games heading into Wednesday’s contest against the Houston Rockets.
It’s hard to trust Los Angeles due to their inconsistent play, but the upcoming schedule should allow them to stay more than afloat without James.