Lakers News: LeBron James Reflects On How Trade Deadline Acquisitions Reenergized Him
Rui Hachimura, LeBron James, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James endured another long season in his 20th year in the NBA. It was a stark contrast from last season when the Lakers bowed out of the season without making the playoffs, the fourth time in his career.

It seemed like that total would jump to five after the Lakers sat deep in the Western Conference standings in late January. But, deals to acquire Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt while trading away Russell Westbrook, among others, revived the Lakers’ playoff chances.

Unfortunately, as soon as the Lakers gained steam for the playoffs, LeBron suffered a right foot injury. He sat out almost a month while the Lakers slowly climbed up the standings. It was all hands on deck once James returned in late March — L.A. finished the season 6-1 after his first game.

While the grind of the season left LeBron yawning at times throughout the year, there was extra juice once he returned from injury. He credited that jump in energy to what he saw while sidelined.

“I think it energized me from the moment I was out for those four weeks and just seeing the type of team that we had, the type of energy that we brought into the locker room, the type of energy we brought onto the floor,” James said after the Lakers’ season ended. “You know, I just couldn’t wait to join these guys with action and get on the floor and I knew how much I could make an impact with the group of guys. But it was always — it was an exciting moment when we were able just to bring those guys into the locker room. You know, we were just a better team right away, and it results in getting to the Western Conference Finals.”

There was a noticeable difference between the Lakers on the court, which makes sense that the energy also changed in the locker room. The chemistry of the team popped out immediately, evident in players sharing a 3-point celebration. LeBron didn’t have the same burst on the court though, a sign that his belief in the team was strong enough to return earlier than expected.

Various doctors told James that his injury required surgery. It wasn’t until he visited the “LeBron James of feet” that he concluded surgery wasn’t necessary. His quick return can be a result of his awareness that this was immediately a better team that could go far. It may have been a longer recovery time if the Lakers began to play for nothing.

James had a quiet statistical playoff run. He averaged 24 points, 9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He shot 26% from deep, his lowest figure since the 2015 playoffs. He also shot below 50% from the field for the second playoffs in a row — the first time since the 2006 and 2007 playoffs.

Hopefully, a rejuvenated and healthy LeBron can take the floor in Year 21.

Front office approaching offseason as if LeBron will be on the team

James sent shockwaves around the NBA when he said he has a lot to think about going forward with basketball. It was reported soon after that LeBron is contemplating retirement. However, the Lakers’ front office is approaching the offseason with the notion that James will be back for his 21st season.

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