Lakers Appear To Be Waving White Flag
There is no doubt in any NBA fan’s mind that the Lakers are one of the most historic franchises. They have the second most championships, only behind the Boston Celtics. They have had some of the greatest players that have ever stepped foot on an NBA court.
Before the start of this year, the Lakers had become a laughing-stock. The team hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2013, they were just a group of young players, with a young coach, looking to develop.
Then they landed LeBron James in free agency.
LeBron has undoubtedly been one of the best ever at carrying a lackluster team into the playoffs… then the NBA Finals.
It seemed like the Lakers were ready to be contenders again.
As this season has gone on though, that idea has become more of a dream or a Hollywood script that just couldn’t make it to the big screen. The team lost LeBron before the All-Star break with a groin injury. That injury sidelined him for 17 consecutive games, and then one more a couple nights later. At that point, the Lakers were 20-14 and the 4th seed in the West. They went 6-12 in the 18 games that LeBron missed.
They are 4-9 in the games he has been back. That record has dropped them to the 10th spot in the West. They are 6.5 games out of the playoffs with 17 games to go.
They have faced plenty of other injuries. Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball have both missed significant time due to injury. Not only have injuries hurt this team, but it seems like their chemistry is nonexistent.
This could have to do with the botched trade attempt for Anthony Davis right before the All-Star break. Whether true or not, the rumors of the Lakers trying to trade six players and some picks on top of it, took the league by storm.
Then there has been the murmurs of Luke Walton’s tenure as the head coach being done at the end of this season. This once again drives the narrative that LeBron is a coach killer.
Throw into the mix that both LeBron and Rondo have come under scrutiny as of late for not sitting in the same zip code as the rest of their team on the bench. Add a little bit of lackluster LeBron defense. Where he is not closing out on defenders, not playing help defense, and getting pushed to play defense by Kyle Kuzma.
This Lakers squad seemed to be heading towards rock bottom.
As an NBA fan though, you always know that if a team has LeBron James, nothing is impossible. He led a team to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Not to mention, that deficit was against the team that was 73-9 and possibly the greatest of all time.
LeBron James is the physical incarnation of Kevin Garnett’s “Anything is Possible!”.
However, it now appears that the Lakers are willing to accept that they will not make the playoffs.
It was reported by Yahoo Sports yesterday that the Lakers will be putting LeBron James on a minutes restriction for the rest of the season.
LeBron was averaging 35 minutes a game up to this point. The report says that he will be limited to 28-32 minutes for the rest of the season. In addition to that, it will be LeBron’s choice as to whether or not he wants to play the second night of any back-to-backs that they will have.
In the eyes of a fan, you have to take that as the Lakers “giving up” on their playoff hopes. They seem to be heading into the offseason, ready to clean their wounds and try to start fresh next year.
Although season one of L.A.Bron and Co. didn’t pan out the way that they imagined, there is still a lot of hope for this team.
Brandon Ingram has playing the best basketball of his career. Kyle Kuzma is looking like a future franchise player. The Lakers have room to bring in some big name talent next year as well.
So although the stage lights are dimming in Los Angeles now, don’t count the Lakers out of having a bigger, better, and brighter encore next season.