LeBron James has been back in the lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers for two games. Both of those games have been losses and now the Lakers have dropped six of their past seven games overall. As a result, L.A. is tied for 5th place with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers in the West. So the idea of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending champion Lakers having to partake in the play-in tournament is becoming more and more real by the day.
After Sunday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, James told reporters ‘Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired.” That being the play-in tournament or was he rather talking about the format? Either way, it doesn’t seem like he’s thrilled to have to earn a postseason spot after sitting out over one month due to a high ankle sprain. LeBron has apparently not been following the standings much this season? Who knows.
This is also somewhat contradictory to James’ comments last year. In late March 2020, which was right after the NBA season paused, LeBron suggested more teams at the bottom of the playoff standings compete against each other to decide the 8-seed. So basically LeBron would prefer to start playing postseason games right now against the Mavs and Blazers and San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. Sure man, that would probably go over well after you’ve missed so much time and the team looks awful.
The condensed schedule and short turnaround clearly have impacted the Lakers on top of personnel turnover. The team is less team at guard behind Dennis Schroder and James. The front court lacks a defensive presence without Dwight Howard, who was thought to be replaced by Marc Gasol this offseason before the Lakers signed Andre Drummond after his buyout. Without James and Davis, this Lakers team is a bottom of the playoff picture squad and maybe that’s LeBron’s way of telling his teammates they need to step up.