The Los Angeles Lakers were a walking disaster this season. They won only 33 games and missed the playoffs despite having five future Hall of Famers on the roster in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Lakers’ catastrophic season, from Westbrook’s subpar play to Davis not being able to stay healthy. Small forward Kent Bazemore, though, isn’t pointing any fingers at James.
“The dude was third in the league in scoring,” Bazemore told TMZ Sports. “What else do you want him to do? He put his body through a lot this year to be there for us.”
James had an incredible season for the Lakers. The four-time champion averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 52.4% from the field, 35.9% from beyond the arc and 75.6% from the free-throw line.
However, James only played in 56 games due to injuries. The four-time MVP dealt with a left ankle sprain, a left knee injury and a left groin injury.
James’ Body Betrayed Him in 2021-22
James’ body betrayed him in 2021-22. His body has actually started to break down since he signed with the Lakers in 2018. The most games James has played in Los Angeles is 67.
Bazemore is right when he says that James did everything he could to help the Lakers win games this season. The four-time Finals MVP played through three injuries and he told the media on April 12 that he shouldn’t have played on his sprained ankle after hurting it badly on April 1 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
“If we were the team that I hoped and wished we were, I shouldn’t have played in that New Orleans game after the injury,” James said on April 12 during his exit interview. “I kind of made it worse, but I wanted to see if we can make a late push, but it literally was like less than one week after the injury in New Orleans. So I kind of made it worse, but I’ll make a full recovery in that.”
James is built like Superman. He’s 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. Most players would likely need offseason surgery after playing through three severe injuries, but James told the media during his exit interview that he won’t be going under the knife this summer.
“There’s no surgery required,” James said. “No injections, but I have to stay off of it for probably about four-to-six weeks to let it recover. … I got some more doctor appointments lined up within the next couple of weeks to take a look at my knee, take a look at my groin and go from there.”
No one on the Lakers can blame James’ basketball production for the team’s lowly season since he put up spectacular numbers. However, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, the Lakers’ front office is “internally blaming pressure” from Klutch Sports Group for the Westbrook trade.
Lakers Blame LeBron, Davis for Westbrook Trade
James and Davis urged Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka to trade for Westbrook last summer. Los Angeles’ acquisition of Westbrook turned out to be an unmitigated disaster since the one-time MVP was second in the NBA in turnovers and didn’t fit well with James and Davis due to his inability to hit perimeter shots.
“Upon the urging of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the franchise traded its championship depth for Russell Westbrook, yet the three stars still ended up with an extended vacation,” Pincus wrote. “After the season concluded, Davis said he would meet with James to ‘reevaluate in the offseason. Upstairs, me and him, talking about the season and what we’d like to see next season.’
“Ideally, their suggestions to the Lakers’ front office will be better than acquiring Westbrook. But James certainly has a strong influence on the Lakers’ decision-making. Multiple sources indicate the team’s front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports Group (representing both James and Davis) for Westbrook.”
The Lakers are expected to part ways with Westbrook this summer. Meanwhile, James can sign a two-year extension with Los Angeles worth $97 million.