LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron shut down for rest of year as Lakers activate tank mode

LeBron James is done for the year as the Lakers prepare to tank for the rest of the year to improve their odds in the NBA Draft lottery.

It’s official: after one of the more underwhelming seasons in recent Los Angeles Lakers memory, the team has decided to shut down superstar LeBron James for the rest of the year.

With nothing to play for, the Lakers and their medical staff clearly felt the best option for the team, in the long run, was to shut LeBron down for the remainder of the season. It stinks for fans who won’t get to see LeBron, but It’s in the Lakers’ best interest. After LeBron returned from his injury, the team went 8-17, a first for James and his usually playoff-bound squads.

After suffering a groin injury vs. the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, James’ prolonged absence sunk the Lakers; they went 6-11 without LeBron in the lineup and were officially eliminated from the playoffs on March 22. This will be a franchise-record sixth straight season the Lakers have missed the playoffs, along with snapping LeBron’s personal record of 13 straight playoff appearances (eight straight trips to the NBA Finals).

James, 34, averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists, and yet played only 55 games due to the groin injury – the least amount of games in his storied career, which includes the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, in which LeBron (and everyone else) played only 66 games.

With no playoffs in sight, clearly Johnson and Pelinka felt the best way to move forward was to tank and acquire the highest possible draft pick possible – the dream of top college prospect Zion Williamson teaming with LeBron for the next three years must be a tough one to resist.

Now that LeBron has ample time off to rest and recover, he’ll be out in force this offseason to draw some reinforcements to Los Angeles for next year. If he has his way, the 2019-20 Lakers will look a lot different from this year’s squad.

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