Ever since LeBron James went down with a groin injury on Christmas Day, his missed presence has been felt by the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is now out of a playoff spot and injuries to some of the other key players have left the team a little thinned out in a very competitive Western Conference. Despite this, the Lakers should be a little optimistic about the future, as a new report says that LeBron could be back as early as Thursday, although nothing is confirmed.

According to ESPN, a source close to LeBron James is saying that the Lakers might have the King back in the lineup for their Thursday night matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. ESPN spoke to Lakers head coach Luke Walton, who is preparing for the week as if LeBron won't play.

"We'll see how he feels tonight, we'll see how he feels tomorrow morning, and we'll just keep taking it day by day and see how he's doing," Walton explained. "We did three-minute scrimmages, so, again, we'll see how his body responds to that, and then from there, we'll take it, as far as making those scrimmages longer or if he says, 'Hey, I feel great. See if I can play.' Then we'll make those adjustments."

The Lakers will take on the Philadelphia 76ers tonight in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, it's clear that LeBron is eager to get back to playing based on the Instagram post below.