LeBron James has been accustomed to playing until mid-June these last eight seasons, but Year 1 with the Los Angeles Lakers officially ended on March 30, 2019.
With the Lakers officially eliminated from playoff contention against the Brooklyn Nets, James played three more games before the decision was ultimately made.
While the 34-year-old intended on finishing the season, head coach Luke Walton revealed the Lakers convinced him to sit out the final six games instead.
As the narratives have quickly changed around James, he is motivated in his first comments since being shut down, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
“I like being uncomfortable in the offseason,” he said. “I like being counted out. It motivates me.”
In his 16th season, James suffered the worst injury of his career and missed 17 consecutive games. While James did return in time for a playoff push, it was apparent at times he was not completely healthy despite averaging similar numbers.
At this stage of his career, James has already played significant minutes in the regular season and playoffs. With three years remaining on his four-year, $154 million deal, James having six months to recover could bode well long-term for him and the Lakers.
As James remains one of the best players in the league today, the Lakers need to properly construct a roster around him in Year 2. Whether it is adding a second All-Star player or signing shooters, a healthy and motivated James is more than capable of leading Los Angeles back to the playoffs.