Stunned LeBron James stands behind Lakers’ plan

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LOS ANGELES — Count Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James among those who were stunned by team president Magic Johnson’s resignation on Tuesday night. But according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Wednesday, James still stands behind the organization and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

ESPN also reported that head coach Luke Walton participated in exit meetings with the players on Wednesday. Walton’s job security is in jeopardy after the Lakers (37-45) missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season despite the offseason signing of James to a four-year, $154 million deal. James, 34, battled injuries and appeared in a career-low 55 games and averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game in 2018-19.

Following his meeting with Walton, James headed to New York, where he, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony watched Dwyane Wade plays his final NBA game. The Miami Heat closed out the season against the Brooklyn Nets. After a pregame video tribute to Wade, the retiring superstar went over and hugged each of his three friends. The four have been friends for years, their bond immortalized by a photo of James, Wade and Paul riding a banana boat together while on vacation in 2015. Anthony was not in the picture but was also on vacation with the group.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has a torn left oblique and could miss the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Smart averaged 8.9 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds this season for the Celtics, who will be the fourth seed in the East after posting a 49-33 regular-season record. Boston will open at home this weekend against the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers. Smart, the physical guard is noted as one of the National Basketball Association’s top defenders. — Reuters