Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said Wednesday that he remains on track for a potential return next week from nagging injuries to his back and knee. The 30-year-old will travel with the team on its West Coast road trip starting Friday.
“My back is feeling a little better, my knee is feeling a little better, I think we’re on pace to get back as close to 100 percent as possible,” James told reporters, according to Cleveland.com. “So I’m excited about the next week.”
James hasn’t played since Dec. 28 and has battled a nagging back injury since the preseason. The Cavaliers announced on New Year’s Day that tests had revealed James had knee and back strains and that James would likely miss two weeks as he recovered from the injuries. While James said he would have played through the injuries if they had occurred during the playoffs, he and team officials opted for rest and rehabilitation until James could return at full health.
“I finally just listened to my body ultimately,” James said of his planned two-week absence, according to ESPN. “I was affecting my game and once I start seeing my game being affected by my stubbornness, then I just had to look myself in the mirror and understand I had to do what’s best for me as well. So it was just one of the hardest but smartest decisions I’ve made.”
James has yet to engage in any basketball activity during the shutdown period, but has been rehabbing with team trainers several times a day. He is expected to return to practice during the West Coast trip and could return to the court for in-game action as soon as Cleveland’s Jan. 15 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin indicated.
The Cavaliers are 1-7 this season in games without James. Cleveland is 19-17 on the season and currently sits at second place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.