LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers exit the NBA All-Star break in 10th place in the Western Conference, sitting a full three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Two months ago, the Lakers were in fourth place on Christmas Day when James went down with a groin injury and missed 18 of the next 19 games. LA suffered back-to-back losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks prior to the break, and the Lakers’ chemistry clearly has been affected by the Anthony Davis trade rumors that have been circulating over the last few weeks.
With 25 games left in the regular season, it will be put on James’ shoulders to mend the fractured locker room and carry the Lakers to the playoffs. But is James physically able to shoulder the load like he did last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers? The Lakers reportedly are concerned about the 34-year-old star, according to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, wondering if James is “fully healed” and if he’s going to “pick up the intensity” to take the Purple and Gold back to the playoffs.