Calling it a catastrophe wouldn’t do it justice, as the Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) find themselves out of playoff contention once again, and it’s evident that the arrival of Superstar Small Forward (SF) LeBron James isn’t enough.
The Lakers have missed the playoffs for too many consecutive seasons recently, which makes the remarks of Los Angeles Clippers (LAC) Point Guard (PG) Patrick Beverly painfully truthful. That right now the L.A. spotlight shines on the Clippers not the Lakers.
Sophomore (PG) Lonzo Ball was held out longer than expected and now looks to sit out the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. Rising star (SF) Brandon Ingram was diagnosed with a Deep Venous Thrombosis within the last few days and it couldn’t be more depleting to the stellar play he’s put up since the trade deadline. Lastly, the recent loss of (SF) Kyle Kuzma puts things into perspective for the Lakers, which is to take a look in the mirror and really evaluate everything from the head coach to the last roster spot.
Where is this young core headed? Who will lead them?
The Lakers are (30-36) according to ESPN, they also sit as the 11th seed in the Western Conference, a distant 7.5 behind the eighth seeded Clippers. With nothing left to prove in the 2018-2019 season, the Lakers have no choice but to cut back the play of James because he’s missed the most consecutive games in row of his 16 year career during this season. There’s absolutely no reason to risk possible injury as father time continues to approach.
James has now shown his mortality to the league. Now, past players and professional sports analyst are suggesting the new face of the National Basketball Association (NBA) has arrived. These top players include Golden State Warriors’ (GS) Point Guard (PG) Stephen Curry/(SF) Kevin Durant, Milwaukee Bucks’ (MIL) Small Forward (SF) Giannis Antetokounmpo or New Orleans Pelicans’ (NO) Power Forward/ Center (PF/C) Anthony Davis.
The torch seems to have officially been passed.
This move to L.A. has hindered and tainted any G.O.A.T. talk of LeBron James, as he once was able to make eight consecutive finals trips in a mediocre eastern conference but with one season in the western conference, he couldn’t even reach the playoffs. Both Stephen A. Smith and Jeff Van Gundy have been very vocal about James’ overall standing, where Gundy even went so far to even suggest that the Lakers shop James this Summer.
According to spotrac.com, the Lakers will have just seven players under contract when this season ends. A core group of James, Ball, Kuzma, Ingram and Shooting Guard (SG) Josh Hart. With the 2019-2020 NBA Cap Salary set at $109 million, the Lakers will have close to $50 million in cap space to make big roster adjustments.
Durant, (SF) Kawhi Leonard, (PF) Paul Milsap, (C) Hassan Whiteside, (SF) Harrison Barnes, (C) DeAndre Jordan, (C) Marc Gasol, (C) DeMarcus Cousins, Forward (F) Jabari Parker, (SG/SF) Jimmy Butler, (SG/SF) Kris Middleton, (PG) Derrick Rose, (SF) Kelly Oubre Jr., Guard (G) Terry Rozier, (PF) Julius Randle, (PF) Tobias Harris, and (SG) Klay Thompson are some of the biggest names to be in the 2019 free agent market.
The obvious and most impactful signing would be a prolific shooter in Klay Thompson, as he would instantly make the Lakers more efficient. He could stretch the floor for the Lakers on the offensive side, while adding defensive upside against the league’s best guards. Which are the two most significant downsides to this current Lakers team.
Now, after that the Lakers shouldn’t worry about superstar acquisitions because signing role players and strategic-minded players will produce wins. No matter how many superstars are on one team, the one aspect that creates championship teams are defined role players.
Again, the Lakers have so much room this upcoming offseason that it’s all on the front office. President of Basketball Operations Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson and General Manager (GM) Rob Pelinka have to throughly decide what’s bet long-term. As they have already sent away building blocks in former Lakers Jordan Clarkson and Randle. They need to carefully make the right decisions that don’t deteriorate team chemistry and player personal.
Whether it’s bringing in a new coach/a fresh coaching staff, trading assets for a superstar, or developing this core into a league-wide threat will attract key free agents: the right decision has to be made for the sake of the franchise this summer. The Lakers organization hasn’t tasted success in a long time and the NBA is no good when the Lakers aren’t relevant.
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