"He wants to play," head coach Luke Walton said before Sunday's game, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "My understanding from the medical staff, they finally said, 'Look, it's just not worth it anymore. Let's make sure you have a healthy summer.' So that's the decision that was made, and we'll move forward without him on the floor for the final six."
James had been getting regular rest down the stretch of the season after the Lakers were eliminated from the postseason, but now he will miss the remaining five games of the year as a way to rest his injured groin.
"After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season," team president Magic Johnson said in a statement Saturday, per Mike Trudell of the team's official site. "This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers."
James originally suffered a strained groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors and ended up missing more than a month of action. The Lakers suffered without him and weren't able to recover once he returned to the lineup.
After Sunday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the team is 35-42 on the season.
While it makes sense to keep him healthy for the future, this type of rest is a major change for the veteran. James played all 82 games last year, leading the NBA with an average of 36.9 minutes per game.
His 55 games played total in 2018-19 is the lowest of his career.
Still, the 34-year-old could use some extra time off to help prepare for next season.
Meanwhile, not having the superstar in the lineup would theoretically lead to more losses and improve L.A.'s draft stock, but the team is also far from tanking range. According to Tankathon, the Lakers only have a 9.4 percent change to get a top-four pick and a 2.0 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall selection.