Ham: Lakers anticipate LeBron return this season


LOS ANGELES — Three weeks to the day since LeBron James suffered a tendon injury in his right foot, and with exactly three weeks remaining in the regular season, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham offered the most encouraging update on James’ status to date.

“We anticipate him coming back at some point [this season],” Ham said before the Lakers hosted the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

James, 38, injured his foot in the Lakers’ 111-108 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26.

James is expected to have his foot reevaluated by Lakers medical staff later this week, perhaps as soon as Thursday, to check on the progress of his rehabilitation program.

L.A. has gone 5-5 with James sidelined, entering play Sunday as the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference with 11 games remaining — a half-game behind the No. 10 Utah Jazz.

“I think Bron, him being out has revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal that we’re trying to achieve,” Ham said. “And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”

To Ham’s point, without James’ team-leading 29.5 points-per-game average on the court, L.A. has had five different players in the past 10 games score 24 points or more: Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Malik Beasley.

James is out of the walking boot he initially wore to stabilize his foot and participated in his first on-court activity — stand-still free throws — Wednesday in New Orleans.

Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder said James has been ramping up his workouts in anticipation of a return.

“He works three times a day on his body to get back,” Schroder said Friday. “I think we got a real chance here [with this team].”

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