LeBron James could make a return for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday when they face city rivals the Clippers.
James has been sidelined with a groin injury since the win at champions Golden State Warriors but is closing in on a return. The four-time MVP has now missed 17 games, the longest injury absence of his career, and the Lakers have struggled without their star man.
The LA outfit are 6-11 without James and have dropped down from fourth to ninth in the Western Conference.
The match-up with the Clippers is now a huge one for the Lakers as they look to secure a spot in the playoffs, with their neighbours one place above and two games ahead of them in the standings.
The Lakers have not made a decision on whether or not James will face the Clippers as yet but it is understood they are hopeful he will be able to make a return.
Veteran Rajon Rondo has returned from his lengthy lay-off but Lakers coach Luke Walton remains without Lonzo Ball due to an ankle injury for Thursday’s game, while Kyle Kuzma is rated as a doubt due to a hip injury.
The game against the Clippers on Thursday is the first of a six-game road trip and they face some tough clashes during that run against Golden State, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks.
The Lakers are 19.00 to win the Championship, with the Warriors rated as the 1.50 favourites.