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Time for Lakers to Tank

March 6th, 2019 · No Comments · Basketball, Lakers, NBA

OK, yes. It turns out the Los Angeles Lakers needed more than LeBron James to be relevant in the 2018-19 NBA season.

With 18 games to play, the club is 30-34, having lost seven of its past 10, including a game to the Phoenix Suns, owners of the worst record in the NBA. Before they beat the Lakers, anyway.

You may recall that signing James last summer was supposed to be the catalyst for a return to the playoffs, at the least, for the first time in six seasons.

But James suffered the lengthiest injury of his NBA career, perhaps no surprise given that he is 34, a hamstring issue that cost him 18 games following the Lakers’ Christmas Day victory over Golden State. The Lakers lost 12 of the games James missed, and they have never really recovered, continuing to sink even with LeBron back in the lineup.

They now are 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final playoffs berth in the Western Conference, and they have been further exposed as a horrible defensive team, the worst in the league at free throws and a merely awful three-point shooting team.

So, what can the club do now to help itself?

Start tanking!

It’s not like they don’t know the drill.

This team is going nowhere.

It was poorly constructed, by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, who filled out the squad with quirky and/or erratic veterans like Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee — and no reliable three-point shooter.

Several of the Lakers’ prized young players (Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram) are nicked up and messed up from the false drama of all of them being traded (with some high draft picks) to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. (Hey, kids, we were just kidding about that!)

LeBron seems to be on the verge of mentally checking out for the rest of the season, now that it is clear no help is on the way.

He may not be quite right, anyway, from the hamstring, and who would argue with the Lakers having their 34-year-old star play little, if at all, the rest of the way? Now that they seem unable to win, even with LeBron?

Forty minutes each of the past two games? The man is nearly halfway through his 30s!

It’s time to go into cruise-control. Data wonks give the Lakers a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs, so why break your backs trying to line up that long-shot berth?

What’s left of the Lakers could lose 12 or 14 of those last 18 games (starting with Dallas tonight), and it might enable them to slide down a half-dozen spots (or more) to the eighth or ninth-worst record in the league and at least a chance to pick as high sixth or seventh in the draft!

It’s not like they are ready to play for pride, or to save coach Luke Walton’s job.

Make it six losing seasons in a row, get a decent pick in a strong draft and see if any superstar (or semi-star) can bring himself to be LeBron’s wing man for the rest of his career.

That’s what the Lakers should do, beginning immediately — reach for the bottom.

The team’s return to greatness?

As Dodgers fans in Brooklyn used to say, “Wait till next year!”


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