When the Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention, there were questions about LeBron James’ playing time with just 10 games remaining.
As James continued playing and the Lakers have won three out of their last four games, he was officially shut down for the final six games of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Considering how the 34-year-old missed 17 consecutive games due to a groin strain and 21 games overall, one of the few benefits is he will have two extra months to fully recover for his 17th season.
Although James returned against the Los Angeles Clippers after six weeks, it appears he was never completely healthy, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
While James played in 21 of the Lakers’ 25 games since initially returning from his groin injury Jan. 31 in an overtime win over the LA Clippers, a source close to the four-time MVP said James was “masking” a lot of the discomfort that the injury still was causing him.
Despite James averaging similar numbers following his return, it became evident he was still suffering from the groin strain at different points of these 21 games. His physical therapist even suggested the severity of the injury was season-ending.
As James looks to prove his doubters wrong, there is pressure on president of basketball operations and general mannager Rob Pelinka to properly construct a roster around him.
With a projected $38 million in cap space and a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Lakers have an opportunity to move away from their ‘tough-minded playmakers’ and prioritize three-point shooters instead.