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SAD NEWS: Darvin Ham is giving last option as Lakers gear up for 2024 postseason failure to make it up will be fired

FILE PHOTO: Dec 31, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham looks on against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Smoothie King Center./Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Ahead of the start of the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs later this week, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James issued some comments regarding his health that should have fans of the franchise feeling optimistic.

“I took a lot of pride in the offseason in getting my foot, my ankle back in order, getting my body back in order,” James said after the Lakers’ final game of the regular season. “And it’s definitely paid off for me.”

The oldest player in the NBA was healthy and in the lineup for the lion’s share of the 2023-24 regular season, his 21st season in the league. James missed just 11 of the Lakers’ 82 regular-season contests and averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game while shooting 54.0 percent from the floor and 41.0 percent from 3-point range.

James’ 71 games played marked the most appearances he’s logged in a single season since the 2017-18 campaign, when he played in all 82 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers and later led the team to an NBA Finals appearance.

With James leading the way, the Lakers finished the regular season with a 47-35 record, which has the iconic organization as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference ahead of the play-in tournament.

In order to qualify for the Western Conference playoffs, James and the Lakers first need to take care of business in the tournament by winning at least one game.

The Lakers will take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night in their first play-in contest. The Pelicans had a shaky finish to the regular season, as the team went 5-5 over its last 10 games of the campaign and suffered a 16-point loss to the Lakers on April 14.

If the Lakers are able to pick up a win, they will secure the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.

On the other hand, if Los Angeles loses to New Orleans, the team will play the winner of the play-in game between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings — that is also slated for Tuesday night — for the conference’s No. 8 seed.

Here’s to hoping that James and the Lakers will stamp their ticket to the playoffs with a win over the Pelicans.

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