LeBron James believes missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season will be a source of motivation for him this offseason.
"I like being uncomfortable in the offseason," he told Joe Vardon of The Athletic. "I like being counted out. It motivates me."
But James is going to have a busy offseason, as Vardon noted:
"Production begins this summer on 'Space Jam 2,' which stars LeBron and is set for a July 2021 release. This is not James' first summer movie project; he filmed 'Trainwreck' in 2014 and the animated film 'Smallfoot' in 2017. Sources told The Athletic that a full-length basketball court would be built on the 'Space Jam 2' set for LeBron to train."
James will not play for Team USA this summer, though he hasn't ruled out playing at the 2020 Summer Games.
"Yeah, that's a possibility," he said of making the trip to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. "It depends on how I feel. I love the Olympics."
James, 34, played in a career-low 55 games this season, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from the field. Offensively, it was another excellent season from James when he was healthy, though his defensive effort left a lot to be desired.
So did his teammates. The Lakers are just 35-42, fell out of playoff contention several weeks ago and have already shut down players like James, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. According to head coach Luke Walton, it wasn't James' choice to be shut down for the team's final six games.
"He wants to play," he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "But it's one of those things where the medical staff just 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."
"Of course I would love to still play, but I've always listened to the ones I trust, no matter if I always agreed with them or not," James told Vardon. "They're looking out for my best interest, and that's the way it is."
A bit of a break will probably benefit James, even if the competitor in him is unhappy with missing the playoffs. Before this season, James had played in eight straight NBA Finals and 13 straight postseasons. His 239 postseason games are the equivalent of nearly three additional seasons. It's been a grind.
This offseason, he'll get more of a rest than he has in a long time. But even a healthy and refreshed James may not matter if the Lakers don't dramatically improve the supporting cast around him.