LeBron James had to be persuaded to sit out the rest of the Lakers’ season, coach Luke Walton told reporters before one of the team’s final games.
The third-year coach said Sunday that James wanted to finish out the season, but the team finally convinced him to rest.
“He wants to play,” Walton said. “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.”
James had been nursing a strained left groin after suffering an injury on Christmas Day.
The tear caused him to sit out 17 consecutive games, and he missed more later in the season due to “load management.” Walton said James used that time to receive treatment “two to three times a day.“
However, James continued to see playing time after the team was officially eliminated from playoff contention March 22.
“Well, I think that goes back to him wanting to compete,” Walton added. “Even though it’s over, he wants to be out there playing with his guys. Eventually, as that time goes on and on, it’s easier to tell someone like that, ‘Let’s take care of your health right now.’ So that’s kind of how the decision came.”
James, 34, finished his first season in Los Angeles averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 55 games. He is tied for fifth in the NBA in points per game and third in assists.
The Lakers struggled with James off the court and will miss the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight year. It snapped James’ personal postseason streak of 13 consecutive appearances and eight straight NBA Finals berths.