For the first time since LeBron James strained his left groin during a win at Golden State on Christmas Day, reporters saw the Lakers forward shoot and pass with teammates and coaches at a shootaround Tuesday morning.
“He didn’t do the up-and-down stuff,” Coach Luke Walton said. “He did the half-court shooting and passing.”
James and the Lakers will know more about his progress after his next evaluation by the medical staff on Wednesday.
Rajon Rondo, who also was injured on Christmas and is recovering from surgery on his right ring finger, partcipated in shooting drills too. Rondo, who had his procedure Dec. 28, was expected to be out four to five weeks.
“I was encouraged, yes. It felt good to see those two on the court,” Walton said.
Walton, who said that was the most James has done in a shootaround, was asked if he was optimistic about Wednesday.
“I’m optimistic about life, so that would be covered in that,” Walton said. “I think we’ll get good news back.”
James, who missed his 11th consecutive game Tuesday, did some light jogging from shooting station to shooting station. Walton was asked how much running has James been doing.
“He does a lot of that when we’re not here,” Walton said. “I don’t know the amount of running he’s doing. I just know he seems to be in good spirits.”
James still comes to home games and has been engaged with teammates there and at practice.
“He’s the leader of this team,” Walton said. “When he’s around talking to guys, it helps.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope lost his starting job after the third game of the season, but he was back in the lineup at shooting guard Tuesday because the Lakers were in desperate need of energy and offense against Chicago.
He replaced Josh Hart in the lineup. Tyson Chandler started at center over JaVale McGee following Sunday’s loss to Cleveland.
Caldwell-Pope scored 17 points in the Lakers’ 107-100 win, played good defense and was plus-14 in 31 minutes.
“KCP did a great job on [Zach] LaVine,” Walton said.
Caldwell-Pope, who started his fifth game this season, is considered one of the Lakers’ better shooters and he’s adept at moving without the ball. He entered the game shooting 42% from the field, 35.2% from three-point range and 88.5% from the free-throw line.
“What I have really liked about how he’s been playing is he’s catching and shooting,” Walton said. “He’s moving the ball and he’s cutting off ball. So, as a shooter, you’re always going to have hot nights, you’re going to have off nights. But it’s the other things that you’re doing that you can keep consistent with, whether that’s playing defense, moving, the things that he is doing right now. So, I think he’s earned this opportunity.”