lebron inj
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on from the bench after he was hurt against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of their NBA Basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 25, 2018 in Oakland, California. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers desperately need something to go right for them. Prized offseason acquisition LeBron James has not played since Christmas, leading to a lackluster run that has the Lakers on the outside looking in with regards to the competitive Western Conference playoff standings.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, they will have to go at least one more game without James. The star forward participated in contact practice drills on Saturday for the first time since he sustained a groin injury, but head coach Luke Walton ruled him out for Sunday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

It will be the 16th consecutive game James has missed this year. The Lakers are only 5-10 in games without James on the court, leading to questions about what the team’s young core can do without James carrying the load.

A report from The Athletic even said the team could trade some combination of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram at the Feb. 7 trade deadline. The idea would be to acquire a second superstar player, like Anthony Davis, for example.

Though his extended absence could be cause for concern among Lakers fans, James reportedly looked good in his return to practice on Saturday.

"He looked good,” Walton said, per ESPN. “He's still really good at basketball, in case you guys were wondering."

Prior to the injury, James was having another stellar year. He has averaged 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game this year, all on the fewest minutes per game of his career. He has also shot 51.8 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from beyond the arc.

It does not look like anyone will catch Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the league MVP race right now, but James is always in consideration. Even with his long absence, James came in third in oddsmakers’ latest MVP betting odds.