LeBron James close to return? Lakers star upgraded to ‘doubtful’ for Bulls game.

Tribune Content Agency

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers say LeBron James is doubtful to play Sunday against Chicago, news that in a vacuum wouldn’t be considered progress.

Yet with James having been listed as “out” for every game the Lakers have played in the last month, the leap to “doubtful” is significant.

Earlier this week, the Lakers said James had begun a ramp-up with on-court work, and while Saturday’s classification signifies progress, it’s still unlikely he plays against the Bulls.

The designation is good news for the Lakers, who have won three consecutive games and have reached .500 for the first time this season after beating Oklahoma City on Friday in the Lakers’ 74th game.

Following the game with the Bulls in Los Angeles, the Lakers travel to Chicago to begin a five-game road trip. That trip ends at Crypto.com Arena with a road game against the Clippers before the Lakers end the season by hosting the Suns and the Jazz.

The Lakers entered Saturday tied with Minnesota for the seventh-best record in the West, 1½ games behind the sixth-place Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers own a tiebreaker against Golden State.

James shot down a reported timeline of a final week return on social media earlier this week, saying only that he’d been working out three times a day in an effort to return.

In addition to James, the Lakers listed guard D’Angelo Russell as questionable and center Anthony Davis as probable for Sunday.