With the Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoffs and All-Star forward LeBron James less than 100% healthy, the Lakers have decided to shut down James for the remainder of the season.
“After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season,” the Lakers said in a statement. “This decision will allow his groin to fully heal and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.”
James’ streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances and eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances will come to end when the Lakers’ season concludes April 9.
James’ 55 games played this season will mark the lowest total of his career – he even played 62 in the lockout-shortened, 66-game season in 2011-12.
James missed 17 consecutive games from late December to late January after sustaining a strained left groin against Golden State on Christmas. At the time, the Lakers were 20-14 and in fourth place in the Western Conference. But the Lakers were 6-11 in those 17 games without James and dropped in the standings.
Trade discussions involving Lakers players not named LeBron James combined with James’ absence sent the Lakers into a freefall from which they couldn’t recover. Even after James declared he activated playoff mode following the All-Star break.
The Lakers were 28-29, in 10th place in the West and just three games out of a playoff spot. But Los Angeles lost 12 of its next 15 games and dropped out of playoff contention. The Lakers sit 34-42, in 11th place in the West and 10 games out of eighth place with six games remaining in the regular season.
Besides missing the most games of any season in his career, it was also not his best performance on the court, at least by his standards. He averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists and shot 51 percent from the field and 33.9 percent on three-pointers.
The Lakers’ 2019-20 season arrived sooner than expected, and the franchise has much to resolve, including what direction they go with a coach and what players they bring in to improve. And they’re hoping they have a healthy James for all of next season.