Windhorst: LeBron James, Lakers' Jeanie Buss in 'Good Place' After Frustrating Season

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 11, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) stands on the court during an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in Los Angeles, Friday, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

LeBron James reportedly remains "invested" in the Los Angeles Lakers despite the team's failure to make the 2022 NBA playoffs.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday on Get Up that James and Lakers president Jeanie Buss are in a "good place" and hope some offseason changes can get the franchise back on track:

"From the LeBron side, as far as I understand, and before I say this it's important with LeBron that you have to keep taking the temperature. Just because it's certain one way on a Wednesday, doesn't mean it will be Friday. But from what I understand, LeBron and Jeanie are in a good place right now. Despite the frustrations of the season, LeBron believes that a few tweaks and some health can actually turn this thing around and they can be super competitive. He is invested and wants to be there."

L.A. has endured a roller coaster stretch since LeBron arrived in 2018.

The Lakers missed the playoffs in his first season and then enjoyed a massive turnaround following the arrival of Anthony Davis to capture the 2020 NBA title.

They've been trending in the wrong direction since capturing that ring, though. They were knocked out of last year's postseason in the first round before falling short of this year's playoff field.

Injuries have been a significant factor. James and Davis combined to miss 63 games in 2020-21 and 68 more in 2021-22.

The Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook before this season with an eye toward remaining competitive when one of the other stars was out of the lineup, but the 2016-17 NBA MVP failed to live up to expectations in an ever-changing role.

Buss told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times she was frustrated with how the season played out.

"I'm growing impatient just because we had the fourth-highest payroll in the league. ... When you spend that kind of money on the luxury tax, you expect to go deep into the playoffs," Buss said. "So, yeah, it was gut-wrenching for me to go out on a limb like that and not get the results that we were looking for. ... I'm not happy, I'm not satisfied."

She added: "We don't like to be missing the playoffs, I understand the fans anger and frustration. I've got to make it better."

An important 12 months lie ahead for the Lakers as James heads into the final season of his contract.

The NBA's longtime gold standard hasn't hesitated to talk about possible future plans, whether it's playing alongside the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry or finishing his Hall of Fame career as a teammate of his son, 2024 draft eligible Bronny James.

While LeBron continues to play at a high level when healthy, he's 37, and injuries have been a pretty consistent factor over the past handful of years. So he's likely not going to sit around waiting for the Lakers to figure things out if there aren't signs of a turnaround in 2022-23.

At least for now, however, it doesn't sound like James is going to seek a trade this summer.