Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton has said that he trusts LeBron James to take care of his own body and is leaving the player's rehabilitation plan up to him and his team.
The new Lakers star has been out since suffering a groin injury on Christmas Day and the team recently announced that he will be re-evaluated on January 16.
Walton, on the other hand, has quite the task getting his team in winning shape without the 15-time All-Star and wants to concentrate on just that as LeBron focuses on his recovery.
“He’s getting re-evaluated again, I think, on the 16th,” Walton said, via the Los Angeles Times this past weekend. “So for me, I got a lot of other things that we’re trying to get done between now and then. We got a great medical staff. LeBron, as you know, he takes care of himself when it comes to seeing doctors and taking care of his body. So, as soon as he’s cleared and ready to go then we’ll get him back out there. But until then, we’ll continue to be patient with him.
“He’ll start shooting. He knows what he’s doing. So him and his team will move forward as long as everything’s feeling good.”
In the meantime, Walton has urged the team to rely on their defense to win them games in the absence of LeBron and Rajon Rondo.
‘The desire to stay in the top 10, to understand how important that is for us, even more so when [missing] LeBron and [Rajon] Rondo, Kuz when Kuz was out,” the coach added. “When these guys are out it’s even more important that our defense is ready to go. That gives us a chance to win games.
“I think our guys know that and they take pride in being a good defensive team. The best way to be a good defensive team is to give a lot of effort. Our guys normally do that.”
What This Means
The Lakers have played nine games since losing LeBron and have managed to win just three. They will hope to go to 4-6 when they host his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Sunday night - and a loss would be devastating as it could see them fall out of the top eight in the West, with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings on their heels.
There's no doubting the Lakers' credentials as a playoff team with LeBron healthy. But they could leave him with a huge task if he spends more time out than expected and they can't string some wins together before his return.