LeBron James’ first season with the Los Angeles Lakers ended in playing a career-low 55 games and missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 NBA season.
The missed games were attributed to a groin injury that James suffered on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors and even when he returned in February, he was still not playing at 100% which led to him being shut down for the season recently.
James wasn’t the only player on the team to get injured this season as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo were also among the key players to miss significant time due to injury. If not for those injuries, the Lakers have asked themselves where they would be in the standings right now.
Since they can’t change the past, the Lakers now must begin planning for the future and this summer will be a big one for them as they have cap space for a max-level player and will be looking for a second All-Star player to pair with James.
James also believes this summer will be a big one for him personally as he looks to get back to being 100% healthy to get the Lakers back into playoff contention for the 2019-20 season, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“It’s a critical summer for myself,” James says. “Obviously, the franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it’s very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now.”
James had been playing through June in the NBA Finals each of the last eight seasons, so he is not accustomed to having offseasons that are this long.
In addition to training and getting healthy, James will also have a handful of other responsibilities this summer. He will certainly be at the forefront of the team’s recruiting pitches to star free agents, and he is also filming Space Jam 2. One thing he won’t be doing is participating in USA Basketball activities for the 2019 FIBA World Cup as he recently ruled himself out for that.
That makes sense considering James already has so much on his plate to help get the Lakers back to being a championship contender.