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It’s time for the Lakers to shut down LeBron James and Anthony Davis

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers were officially put out of their misery after six very frustrating and disappointing months when a loss to the Phoenix Suns eliminated any chance they had of reaching the play-in tournament.

Now, the attention has to turn to next season and how the Lakers can clean up the mess they made.

The first step they have to take is to protect their investment in their two superstars.

In order to do that, they need to keep LeBron James and Anthony Davis out of these final three games, no matter how badly they may want to keep playing.

LeBron needs to be saved from himself and his individual agendas

Yes, James, if his sprained ankle is feeling good enough, will likely want to play a couple more games in order to make a serious run at the NBA scoring title. He has played in 56 games this season, and league rules require a player to play in at least 58 games out of a full 82-game schedule to qualify for the scoring title.

But if James is serious about winning another NBA championship, he will put his long-term health over what would be a seemingly meaningless individual accolade.

Towards the end of the 2012-13 season, a season in which the Lakers were also riddled with tons of key injuries, Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles, which was, for all intents and purposes, the end of his storied NBA career.

This Lakers team needs to prevent a similar outcome for James, as well as Davis, who is clearly injury-prone.

Time to start preparing for next season

There is nothing left for the Lakers to play for. Who cares if they lose these last three games and ends the schedule with a 10-game losing streak?

Let the young players on the squad get more playing time in order to evaluate them. Give Wenyen Gabriel lots of playing time and see if he is worth keeping beyond this season and developing.

As terrible as this season has been, the whole situation can be turned around quickly, if the right decisions are made.

Although he keeps dropping hints about wanting the leave the Lakers, James will be with the team for at least one more season, and the organization needs to make the most of it.

If things will be turned around in 2023, it will have to start with good health, and being healthy tomorrow starts with decisions made today.

As the late great Kobe Bryant once said minutes after being eliminated from the playoffs, next season starts right now.