Lakers Hopeful LeBron Will Finally Return on Thursday

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King James now sports the Purple and Gold of the Los Angeles Lakers on the hardcourt floor. It started with a 2-5 start that got a meeting with Magic Johnson that got heated.

However, Paul Pierce believes the Lakers should not rush James back from his injury and give him as much time as he needs to fully recover.

Walton said there hasn't been any discussion yet of a minutes restriction for James, who has missed 16 games since injuring his groin on Christmas Day against Golden State.

James did not participate in the team's scrimmage, but coach Luke Walton had good things to say about how the four-time MVP looked. Here are the quotes...

"There's a lot of tension in that building. They're not too subtle about that".

"I see progress that the team is 25-23 right now and the Western Conference is hard, and I would never think that being over".

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"Not LeBron, but all the people around LeBron".

But Walton did not rule out the possibility of James taking to the court.

"I've never even heard of a press release where they say a guy is going to practice in a week, even that is odd".

But Buss is not concerned and while she admits they do want to get back to challenging for a place in the playoffs and National Basketball Association championships - the Lakers chief commended the front office for not taking any shortcuts by trading their assets for short-term glory. Jackie MacMullan discussed the rumor with Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective podcast.

But it has set off a potential civil war in Laker land.

Walton's staunchest ally has reportedly been Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, a very good ally to have, but surviving on that friendship alone against the wishes of both your team's best player and front office doesn't sound like a tenable position.