LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers failed to capture a second straight NBA title after an early playoff exit. The disappointing end shined a stronger light on James‘ legacy as he moves closer to two decades in the league. With that in mind, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson laid out the four-time MVP’s remaining NBA title window.
LeBron James suffers his first opening-round playoff exit
James entered the 2020-21 season, hoping to lead the Lakers to a second straight NBA title.
Los Angeles embarked on a promising start, holding one of the Western Conference top records while the 36-year-old was putting together an MVP-caliber campaign. However, injuries began to pile up as Anthony Davis suffered a calf injury in February that kept him off the floor for two months.
James also suffered a right high ankle sprain in late April that forced him to miss around six weeks. He and Davis returned for the final few regular-season games and the playoffs, but both players couldn’t recapture their form before the injuries.
All that resulted in James suffering the first opening-round playoff exit of his illustrious NBA career. As he moves through the offseason, a former Lakers great laid out James’ title remaining championship window.
Magic Johnson says LeBron James has two years to compete for an NBA title
James is heading into the offseason before his 19th NBA campaign, shifting the focus even more intently to his championship window.
During a recent interview on ESPN‘s KJZ show, Magic Johnson voiced that he believes the four-time league MVP only has two more years to compete for an NBA title.
“I think to me he has two hard years,” Johnson said. “I’m talking about, ‘Listen, we gotta get it done in these two years that I can still just be a man out here dominating, playing great.’ So, the Lakers, we got to get some pieces around here for these two years. The Lakers, we got to get some pieces around here for these two years. In another year, [Kevin Durant], it’s going to be his turn.”
Although Johnson’s career didn’t extend into his 19th season, he certainly knows the physical grind it takes to play at an elite level. James has yet to show any drop-off in his ability. Still, it’s only natural that his body won’t physically perform how it did in years past, regardless of his physical conditioning and treatment.
On top of that, James is only under contract through the 2022-23 campaign after inking an extension last offseason. His deal runs through his 20th season, at which point he will have the opportunity to dictate whether he wants to play for a 21st year or retire.
The Lakers are well aware of the situation as the upcoming offseason will be critical to constructing a roster that can compete for a championship. If anything, Johnson’s comments further underline the importance of maximizing the opportunity ahead.
Los Angeles holds a pivotal offseason ahead
Johnson’s remarks only add to what will be a critical stretch for general manager Rob Pelinka to rebuild a championship-contending roster.
Yes, injuries and a historically short offseason after an NBA title played a factor, but the Lakers’ shortcomings with the supporting cast showcased how the team needs an upgrade. Los Angeles needs shooters around Davis and James after finishing 21st in 3-point percentage (35.4).
The Lakers may pursue another star who can create offensive production such as All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. They may also venture into a sign-and-trade scenario by acquiring someone like veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The front office will have several options to improve the roster despite the limited cap space. Ultimately, the end goal is to construct a team that can compete for another NBA title with James and Davis leading the charge.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.