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Reports: LeBron James hoping to return before end of regular season

The Lakers have been without the NBA's all-time leading scorer since February.

LeBron James (foot) has missed the Lakers’ last 12 games.

The Los Angeles Lakers could have LeBron James back in the mix before the end of the regular season, per multiple reports.

On Thursday, the team announced that James has started to progress with on-court activity and is on a “gradual basketball movement progression,” while the NBA on TNT’s Chris Haynes reports James is hoping to make his return for the final few games of the 2022-23 season.

James took to Twitter shortly after news of his status update was reported and said: “There wasn’t an evaluation today and there hasn’t been any target date for my return. I’m just working around the clock, every day(3X a day) to give myself to best chance of coming back full strength whenever that is. God bless y’all sources. I speak for myself!”

James has been out of the lineup since the end of February with a right foot tendon injury, but the Lakers have stayed in the thick of the Play-In Tournament chase with a 7-6 record during his absence. At 36-37, Los Angeles has won three of its last five games and is No. 10 in the Western Conference standings, but just 1 1/2 games behind the No. 6-seeded Golden State Warriors.

James played 37 minutes in the Lakers’ 111-108 win at Dallas on Feb. 26, helping Los Angeles rally from a 27-point deficit. But he left the arena with a pronounced limp.

He leads the Lakers in scoring at 29.5 points per game, and said at the All-Star break earlier this month that the team’s closing stretch this season would be some of the most important games he has played — noting he didn’t want to miss the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Big man Anthony Davis has stepped up admirably during James’ absence, posting 26.3 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.8 apg and 2.1 bpg, appearing in 10 of the Lakers’ 12 games without James.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.