A Lakers season that was already bad got worse on Saturday, as the team announced star attraction LeBron James would sit out its remaining six games to nurse a strained groin injury.
Already eliminated from the playoffs and beset by injuries to other key players, the Lakers now head into an off-season in which Coach Luke Walton is also expected to depart.
“After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season,” read a statement from Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. “This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.”
James is age 34, already old by National Basketball Assn. standards, but was expected to revitalize a Lakers team that had seen little success in recent years. Surrounded by veterans he recruited and a young core, it was anticipated that James’s first season with the team would mark a return to glory.
On sheer numbers, James had a fine season, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 55 games. But his lobbying for an Anthony Davis trade at mid-season didn’t sit well within the team, and as injuries to others mounted, the Lakers fell further down.
The injury that will keep LeBron out initially happened on Christmas Day, which led to a 17-game absence. The 55 games played are the least he played in one season.