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LeBron James reportedly to return “soon,” still has not done full contact practice

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 08: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks on court after a timeout during a 126-123 Lakers overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center on November 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE.

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The Lakers are treading water without LeBron James. They have gone 3-3 while he has been out with an abdominal strain, although they have been outscored by 28 in those games (they won two in overtime). The Lakers mostly miss LeBron as a shot creator in the halfcourt: The team has an 88.5 net rating in that situation, which would be the worst halfcourt offense in the league this season (stat via Cleaning the Glass).

The good news in Los Angeles: LeBron should be back “soon.” From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Soon,” a source close to James told ESPN when asked about James’ return timetable.

The source said James is “progressing great” in his on-court workouts. However, Vogel said the 19-year veteran has yet to participate in a full practice or take part in contact drills.

Soon is vague, and Lakers coach Frank Vogel’s comment pregame made it sound like LeBron’s return is not imminent but close.
“He looks good. He’s moving. He hasn’t done a full practice or contact yet but he’s looking good moving around in his individual work,” Vogel said.

Later, when discussing adding Talen Horton-Tucker and Carmelo Anthony to the starting lineup, Vogel said they expect to get LeBron back “soon.”

The Lakers play the Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back Monday, then head out on the road for five starting against the defending champion Bucks on Wednesday, and including a stop at Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks.

At 8-6 to start the season, the Lakers sit seventh in the West. Having gotten there with LeBron having played in just six of the team’s 14 games so far is a hopeful sign for Lakers fans, but the team needs him back. Soon.