The Lakers’ injury-riddled 2018-19 season seems to have finally decided the fate of the not so “Showtime” Lakers and their diminished playoff hopes
Well, Lakers Nation, so much for “playoff mode” LeBron James being activated. Today I have officially come to terms with my Lakers sending it in for the year. The playoffs are no longer a reality. The team is currently 31-39 after falling to the Knicks on Sunday, well out of range of grabbing a postseason spot.
Within the past two weeks, the Lakers have successfully done everything they could to not make the playoffs. To top it off, the team decided to shut down Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram for the remainder of the season, due to injuries. The Lakers also announced they would cut James’ minutes down, for a cooldown rather than a complete shutdown.
Where do I begin with this team? There have been so many ups and downs, from beating the Warriors on Christmas night, to losing James for the longest period of time in his career through injury. This is now another season where I’m left with the same “what if” questions like previous seasons.
Aside from James completely ruining the Lakers’ season, I was very disappointed with Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Luke Walton. Walton showed he has no business being at the wheel of a star-studded Lakers team; he is better suited to coach UCLA just across town. Johnson and Pelinka went through another trade window without getting the necessary pieces for a championship run. They also let the New Orleans Pelicans drop a bomb every single day in the media about potential trade proposals for Anthony Davis.
I was, and still am, very disappointed by this season. James let his plans of life beyond LA basketball get in the way of the season. From HBO specials, being the Artistic and Repertoire (A&R) man for 2 Chainz’ new album, announcing “Space Jam 2,” being out with injury for the longest time in his career to the fiasco with Anthony Davis, this season officially falls on James.
My G.O.A.T., Kobe Bryant, would never allow himself to miss as many games as James has, nor would he allow teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and Los Angeles Clippers to be the reason for missing the playoffs and he would never let a trade deadline in the middle of the season ruin the playoff hopes of the team.
Now, of course, it wasn’t just James. Lakers fans saw Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Ball, and Ingram all battle through injuries and cold spots in the season. Maybe Lakers fans were asking too much from James, who had never played a season in the Western Conference, and in the end, it showed.
Looking forward, I hope the Lakers send Luke Walton to UCLA, continue to tank to get the best possible lottery outcome and break apart the troublesome young core. Unfortunately, I don’t think the team we have now will work. James simply isn’t young enough to keep up with these young guys. He needs veteran stars who are ready to win now.
In the best case scenario, Johnson will pull off a little magic of his own and land Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving or Davis. It may be tough for the Lakers to get the big name stars, but I would bet at least one big name will land in LA. The Lakers do have great trade bait. In addition, they have plenty of salary cap, a desirable place to stay and a potential lottery pick to deal or use.
Hopefully, the Lakers don’t miss the final opportunity to dish out James while they still can. It could get to that point in about 10 months if the Lakers are still a below .500 team. This would only be in a worst case scenario, but I wouldn’t call it out of the question.
It will be hard having to go through another round of playoffs watching the same teams play over and over again. It will likely be another long, cruel and hard offseason waiting for someone to save this team.
James will finally end his run of consecutive playoffs and final appearances. I hope it’s a wake-up call for him about what it means to play for the purple and gold. Championships are expected in this city more often than every 50 years.