LeBron James doubtful to play in Lakers’ game against Trail Blazers

Lakers forward LeBron James casts a look at Nuggets fans
Lakers forward LeBron James is likely to miss the game Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

LeBron James is still dealing with swelling in his left knee that has left the Lakers forward listed as “doubtful” for Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Arena, coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday.

James missed the last three games of the Lakers’ six-game trip after undergoing an MRI that revealed swelling in the knee following the game in Brooklyn. He returned home to Los Angeles on Saturday to start treatment.

“Still working on trying to get that swelling down,” Vogel said during practice at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “He’s listed as doubtful for tomorrow. He’s not here today. Got treatment outside of our facility.”

Vogel said the goal is to be cautious with James and not rush him back if his knee is not ready.

Earlier this season, Anthony Davis was bullish on the Lakers’ prospects for a strong season. His tune has changed a bit amid the team’s struggles.

Even if the Lakers are the ninth seed in the Western Conference and are staring at a potential play-in game to make the postseason, Vogel said they will be smart when it comes to James’ health.

“The No. 1 goal is that he’s healthy for the long haul, and everything else is less important after that,” Vogel said. “What we have to do is we have to win games when he’s out and that’s what it comes down to. We have enough, and we’ve been close these last couple and haven’t gotten over the hump, and we got to get back home and put together some wins until he returns.”


Vogel was asked who will make the final decision on when James returns, knowing that they are missing his 29.1 points per game, tied for second in the NBA.

“Him and his training staff, really, and the medical team and in communication with him seeing where he’s at on a daily basis,” Vogel said. “It won’t be up to me. He wants to be back as soon as possible, but obviously he’s going to listen to the medical recommendations and what’s best long term.”

It’ll be up to Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to lead the way until James rejoins the fold. But the Lakers may have found another weapon to help in backup guard Malik Monk.

Monk started at Atlanta and was a force in the loss, scoring 33 points on eight-for-14 shooting on three-pointers.

When asked if Monk would start in James’ absence, Vogel responded, “Yes, I think so.”

“We haven’t settled on a starting lineup for tomorrow,” Vogel added. “He had 33 points as a starter last game so I would say he’s likely going to be starting again, and he picks up a big chunk of the scoring load with Bron out. We lose him in the second unit and that’s something that’s been a positive of ours. … But I would say he likely stays in the starting lineup, yes.”



When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.

On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.

Update: The Trail Blazers have lost four of their last five games. Guard CJ McCollum is second on the team in scoring (20.8). Norman Powell (18.4) and Anfernee Simons (15.6) have been solid for the Trail Blazers.