LeBron Better Off Missing NBA Playoffs

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LeBron Better Off Missing NBA Playoffs

LeBron James’ Lakers are out of the playoff picture, but that may not be a bad thing. (Courtesy of Flickr)

LeBron James’ Lakers are out of the playoff picture, but that may not be a bad thing. (Courtesy of Flickr)

LeBron James’ Lakers are out of the playoff picture, but that may not be a bad thing. (Courtesy of Flickr)

LeBron James’ Lakers are out of the playoff picture, but that may not be a bad thing. (Courtesy of Flickr)

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By Andrew Posadas

A grim reality is beginning to cascade over Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James: he may be sitting at home with the rest of us when the NBA playoffs begin next month.

The Lakers have now lost three straight games following Monday night’s 113-105 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers. 18 games remain in the regular season and the Lakers are on the outside looking in. A mediocre 30-34 record has L.A. five-and-a-half games behind for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Per ESPN, the Lakers currently have a one percent chance to make the playoffs.

However, the prospect of missing this year’s playoffs may in fact be good for LeBron James.

For starters, there is one thing that LeBron has been lacking for the better part of a decade: rest. Coming into this season, he had been to eight consecutive NBA Finals. While most players see their seasons end in April and May, LeBron is consistently playing into the month of June. In those eight years, LeBron has racked up 168 games via postseason.

Essentially, that is the equivalent of playing two extra full regular seasons. While LeBron is in his 16th season, he has technically played 18 NBA seasons. As much as we praise him for being like Iron Man in terms of durability, LeBron is not omnipotent or immune to Father Time. The greatest athletes ultimately fall victim to attrition. One could even surmise that his groin injury earlier this season was inevitable.

Missing the playoffs gives LeBron an extra couple of months to get his body right and rested. He has already missed the most games of his career this season due to injury. What sense does it make to keep playing him under these circumstances? Especially when you take the team constructed around LeBron into account.

President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka failed to put a suitable team around LeBron. Instead of placing knockdown shooters around him, the duo spent last summer signing free agents like Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee and Lance Stephenson, all of whom are not considered good outside shooters by any stretch of the imagination. Johnson and Pelinka also did the team no justice when they made it abundantly clear that everyone except LeBron was expendable.

Once initial reports surfaced that New Orleans superstar forward Anthony Davis requested a trade, the Lakers were rumored to be at the top of his wishlist. Davis also recently signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, the same agency that represents LeBron James. The writing was plastered all over the wall: Anthony Davis was going to Los Angeles.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers strongest offer for Davis included as many as six players, which spanned veterans like Rondo and Stephenson to the Lakers’ best young assets in Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Unfortunately, the trade talks were one-sided: New Orleans was never truly interested in an offer for Davis before the trade deadline. Seemingly, the Pelicans plan to wait for more trade partners come NBA Draft time or in free agency this July.

What came out of that situation fatally wounded the Lakers moving forward. A group of players who initially believed their time was up as LeBron’s teammates were staying put. There is no doubt the locker room chemistry has not recovered since and is a driving force in the Lakers’ disastrous season.

Let’s say in a perfect world, LeBron somehow manages to carry this team into the playoffs. Is it worth it if the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are there to greet him? In his postseason career, LeBron is undefeated in first-round playoff series. Not only would he lose to the Warriors in the first round, but he potentially risks getting swept in the process.

Will it be shocking to experience an NBA playoffs without LeBron James? Absolutely. For the last decade, all NBA fans, whether they hate or love LeBron, have know one thing: teams led by LeBron James go to the Finals. But do not get it twisted: seeing the King drag an eighth-seeded Lakers to an early first-round exit would be excruciatingly painful to “witness.”

Missing out on the playoffs this season does not make or break LeBron’s hall of fame career. He will still go down as the second greatest NBA player ever behind Michael Jordan.

Just do us all a favor LeBron, and get some much needed rest. You deserve it.