LeBron James injured his groin in a win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Los Angeles Lakers fans hoped that LeBron would be back soon, but it turned out that the injury -- while not requiring surgery -- was still severe enough to shelve James. The reports indicated that the Lakers did not want to rush James back since he had never suffered an injury this severe to his groin before and was therefore unfamiliar with warning signs upon a return.

Now, thanks to a statement by LeBron's agent Rich Paul, it sounds like the injury was worse than the Lakers originally suggested -- and it would explain why James is still not back a month after suffering the groin strain.

Rich Paul on LeBron's injury

According to a statement by Rich Paul (via the Twitter account of USA Today NBA writer Sam Amick), it was not just a groin strain but a tendon injury. Paul said that LeBron James wants to get back out there to play but physically can't right now. He said that this is a "tendon. It's not a shoulder, or an ankle, or an elbow." He said that keeping James sitting out of games is the "smart thing" and the media and the losing record of the Los Angeles Lakers can't force LeBron back before he is ready.

Dr. David J. Chao is a former NFL head team doctor with over 17 years experience and is a practicing orthopedic surgeon. He responded to Rich Paul's statement and said that a "tendon tear" to the groin is not the same as a strain and requires at least six to eight weeks -- or longer -- before LeBron James could return to the Los Angeles Lakers in that situation.

LeBron James has been out for 14 games -- the longest stretch of his career to miss games due to an injury.

During his absence, the Los Angeles Lakers have lost nine games and have fallen a full game back of the Utah Jazz -- below the playoff bubble line. The longer that James is out, the harder it will be for him to help get them back into contention.

Rajon Rondo ready to return

With Lonzo Ball out for over a month with a Grade 3 sprain of his left ankle, the Los Angeles Lakers did get some good news when Rajon Rondo was cleared to return to the court.

Rondo will be back on Thursday night when the Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. With Lonzo out, Rondo should immediately move into the starting lineup as the point guard trying to help lead the Lakers back into contention.

Rondo missed the past 14 games for the Lakers -- just as LeBron has -- as he recovered from surgery for a torn ligament on his right hand's ring finger.