Despite winning yesterday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers were finally eliminated from playoff contention. Although there was very little chance that the Lakers would slide up into the 8th slot, statistically they weren’t eliminated until today.
With 8 games left remaining in the regular season the Lakers hold a 33-41 record, already 7 more games than the previous season.
Now that an extended summer break is inevitable, what’s next for LA? Tanking at this stage of the season is a pointless effort, given that the teams below them are way below them and the fact that free agents are the goal and not draft picks this upcoming summer.
The rumor mill hints at LeBron James and Paul George joining LA as free agents to enjoy the massive salary cap space that Magic Johnson has freed up for them and playing close to home (George grew up in the LA area and LeBron owns a home there which he frequents). These rumors come despite the Lakers’ statement that their focus has been shifted to the 2019 free agency, but they’re not fooling anyone. No team in the league is going to pass up on some kind of offer to lure James to their team.
The main sales pitch besides the offer of big bucks is the young squad currently wearing the purple and gold. This last stretch of games is to show stars such as LeBron and Paul what they can do, and get everyone thinking what this team could accomplish with a superstar leading the way. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram are all assets that the Lakers want to use as bait rather than as pawns to trade.
The arrival of a player with the caliber of James would likely tempt other free agents to join as well. When Jimmy Butler was sent to the Timberwolves he was quickly joined by former Bull teammate Taj Gibson and sharpshooter Jamal Crawford. Philadelphia has picked up several players willing to ‘Trust the Process’, and of course LeBron’s current team has had its fair share of new faces in the past couple of years.
Anything is possible. Last summer’s crazy free agency sets the tone for another unpredictable year. Once this season ends, everyone will be holding their breath and expecting the unexpected. Only time will tell what will happen.
Featured photo: latimes.com
Photo source: clutchpoints.com