LeBron James believes this offseason will be “critical” for himself and the Los Angeles Lakers after the franchise missed the postseason for the sixth consecutive season.
“I’ve never played fantasy basketball,” James told Bleacher Report in a story published Wednesday. “But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That’s why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise. So I’ll be as active as I need to be for us to get better and go from there.”
With the playoffs out of the picture, the Lakers will enter into an offseason rife with speculation about the job security of coach Bill Walton as well as the construction of the roster. Seven of L.A.’s 14 players are set to hit free agency.
“It’s a critical summer for myself,” James told Bleacher Report. “Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it’s very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now.”
James will again hit the recruiting trail in pursuit of finding talent to play alongside him in Los Angeles. He told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in December, prior to his and the Lakers’ failed pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis at February’s trade deadline, that he has always viewed recruiting as part of his role.
“I’ve always recruited,” James told Nichols. “I’ve been trying to get guys to come play with me since, like, 2007. I’ve got rejected a lot. But I’ve also have not got rejected a lot.”
James also told Bleacher Report that he believes in the Lakers’ ability to land a key piece.
“So it’s very critical to me and my future [for the Lakers to acquire another star this offseason],” James said. “And I’m positive and very optimistic that Magic [Johnson] and Rob [Pelinka] and the franchise will be great.
“They got me. I’m very confident. And I’m confident that players want to play with me. I’m very confident in that.”
James, who missed a long stretch with a groin injury and will finish his first season with the Lakers having played a career-low 55 games, averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists.
The Lakers had missed the playoffs only five times in the first 65 years of the franchise’s existence prior to the current streak.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.