The Los Angeles Lakers have been without LeBron James for the last five games, but his injury timeline leaves open the possibility of a return against the San Antonio Spurs. After Friday night's complete collapse against the Timberwolves, his competitive spirit could come into play.
During a victory over the Houston Rockets on November 2nd, James suffered an abdominal strain, which has now contributed to him missing six of the Lakers' first 13 games. Coach Frank Vogel will undoubtedly be cautious with his superstar, as the season is just getting underway and the Lakers should still have enough firepower without him to stay afloat.
Still, a rectus abdominis strain isn't usually too serious of an injury if given proper time to heal. According to Shams Charania in his initial report, LeBron was expected to miss at least one to two weeks from the time of the injury.
Is it possible LeBron James returns from injury against the Spurs?
Sunday would mark 10 days from the time the injury was announced till the tipoff against the Spurs. That's right in the middle of the projected timeline given by Charania. As Shams put it in his follow-up report, James probably could play through the injury if it was a playoff situation or an important stretch.
Still, there are reasons to believe the Lakers may still sit LeBron for at least a few more games. Former Lakers' strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco recently talked to The Athletic (subscription required) to assess the injury.
"The way he plays, it's tough to see him getting back under four weeks," he said. "Then again, he's a different dude."
That last part definitely rings true, as James is 36 years old and still doing ridiculous things. It wouldn't be surprising to see him heal much faster than mere mortals.
Still, given what's at stake if a re-injury was to occur, I'd put my money on him not returning against the Spurs. After all, they already defeated San Antonio once without him -- they're probably confident they can do so again. Then again, they probably felt confident against Minnesota too.