• LeBron James injured his right ankle during Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks
  • The Lakers star is out indefinitely, reports say
  • The Lakers may need to make moves to improve their roster in the coming weeks

The worst fear of the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans has happened. For weeks now, word got around that the purple and gold wanted to lighten LeBron James' burden for fear of injuries. But James was unlucky during Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

James suffered a high right ankle sprain and will be out indefinitely, Associated Press reported. The four-time NBA MVP tried to play through it, but it was clear that he was hurting. He ended up leaving the game early in the second quarter and did not return.

The 17-time All-Star rolled his ankle after fighting for the loose ball against former Laker Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill. In the video replays, Hill fell on James’ ankle, which most deemed a dirty play.

The 30-year-old player responded to the dirty play accusations and said he would never disrespect the game and take a player out intentionally.

Now, the Lakers can only wait and see to find out when the 36-year-old can return to action. He has been listed as out indefinitely. James posted on Twitter his frustration but vowed to return soon as he starts his road to recovery.

Already without Anthony Davis, the Lakers are now left searching for alternatives. Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope need to step up for the purple and gold with their top two stars out.

The NBA trade deadline is on March 25, but the Lakers are unlikely to pull off something by then. Their best bet is to check out free agency and hope they can land key players. One name linked to the Lakers is Andre Drummond, who is most likely to be bought out. The only problem with that is other teams are also zeroing in on the 6-foot-10 All-Star center.

Hassan Whiteside of the Sacramento Kings has also been mentioned, although a buyout is unlikely to happen. With Marvin Bagley III out, the shot-blocking demon has been alternating at the center slot with Tyrese Haliburton. But considering the Kings are not looking good, there is a chance that Whiteside could also be bought out or traded for the right package.

The coming days are bound to see NBA pundits monitoring the Lakers’ situation. Unless the real state of James is known, their back-to-back NBA title chances may be under threat. Another NBA MVP award could also slip past James, although winning a fifth NBA title is likely to be more important for the 6-foot-9 star.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images | Michael Owens