LeBron James wanted to finish out the 2019 regular season but was overruled by the Los Angeles Lakers medical staff, coach Luke Walton revealed on Sunday.
This week, the Lakers announced that James would be shut down for the remaining two weeks of the regular season in order to allow his strained left groin to have a chance to heal. The Lakers had just been officially eliminated from playoff contention, and many criticized James for appearing to give up on the rest of the regular season.
But as ESPN reports, the decision may have been out of his hands. Walton said after the team’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday that the Lakers medical staff intervened and told James he needed to take a break so he could start to heal.
“My understanding from the medical staff, they finally said, ‘Look, it’s just not worth it anymore. Let’s make sure you have a healthy summer.’ So that’s the decision that was made, and we’ll move forward without him on the floor for the final six,” Walton said.
It was a disappointing first season for James in Los Angeles as the team failed to improve much from 2018, struggling with injuries and inconsistency from the supporting cast around James. Though LeBron averaged 27.4 points per game — fifth in the NBA this season — he was hobbled for much of the season after suffering a tear in his left groin on Christmas Day.
Walton said the time off will allow LeBron to finally heal.
“He’s going to be in the weight room working out. He’s going to do everything he can to take care of himself and his body,” he said.
The Lakers announce that they are shutting LeBron James down for the rest of the season. pic.twitter.com/aEBs6P22qY— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 30, 2019
There will likely be significant changes for the Los Angeles Lakers by the start of the 2019 season. There have been rumors for several months that James was not getting along with Walton and that his camp wanted the Lakers coach to be fired. Many expect Walton to be relieved of his duties sometime after the season comes to a conclusion, and there are rumors that James is angling for a reunion with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.
As a previous report from The Inquisitr noted, Lue has a proven track record of success with LeBron James, and other coaches appear to be wary of joining the Lakers because of LeBron’s tendency to clash with coaches and his reported aversion to being coached at this point in his career.