LeBron James‘ first season with the Lakers will end early, the team announced in a press release. With a playoff bid out of reach, the organization has decided to shut down James down for the rest 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 team said in a statement released by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka. “This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.” (Twitter link)
The Lakers have just six games to go and are mired in 11th place in the West, so the decision not to play LeBron won’t have much effect on the standings. He will continue to travel with the team as a sign of support.
James appeared in just 55 games, missing significant time after injuring his groin in a Christmas Day game. His numbers remain outstanding — 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per night — but his durability is becoming a question after playing 82 games and leading the league in minutes last year.
L.A. had a 28-27 record in games that James played, including victories in the last three, tweets ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The team was in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race before his injury, but dropped off quickly once he was out of the lineup.
James still has two years left on his current contract at $37.4MM and $39.2MM, plus a $41MM player option for 2021/22.