According to Joe Vardon, the Lakers are worried that the injury might be a sign that James didn't fully recover from a groin strain he suffered. Vardon's sources said they slow-walked LeBron back out of fear that he wouldn't recover properly.
"The Lakers are privately a little concerned about LeBron. Is he fully healed from the groin strain that cost him a career-worst 18 games?" Vardon asked. "Is he going to pick up his intensity and propel this team back into the playoffs, as he did last year in Cleveland?"
For his part, James appears ready to drag the Lakers into the playoffs. The team is three games out of the Western Conference's eighth seed. James believes that he's completely up for the challenge.
"Looking forward to the second half of the season," James said, after the All-Star Game according to the Los Angeles Times. "Looking forward to seeing what we can do to get back in this playoff race. That's my only mindset. That's the only thing that's going to happen in my mental space for these next two months, pretty much on how I can get this team playing the type of level of basketball we were playing before my injury."
While James has seemed nigh invincible to everything but the Warriors superteam during his time in the NBA, the Lakers aren't completely unfounded in their concerns. Though he's still undoubtedly the league's best player, he's 34 years old and carrying the baggage of 15 long seasons. The Lakers are right to consider the health of their superstar and do whatever they can to avoid lingering injuries. That goes double when you consider that a fully healthy LeBron is potentially the greatest to ever play the game, even this late into his career and is capable of taking just about anyone to the Finals.