Lakers News: Rival Executives Assess L.A.’s Miserable Start
Is it time to reckon with what could be long-term drop-offs for LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Your Los Angeles Lakers 2-7. Yes, they have yet to face off against an opponent below a .500 record, but if they were actually a good team, they’d still be able to win closer to half of their own games.
But they’re not. They’re trying their darnedest. Head coach Darvin Ham is tinkering with lineups and rotations.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report recently spoke with several rival NBA executives about L.A.’s predicament. They all raised an interesting point that this writer genuinely hadn’t been considering. Could Los Angeles stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have actually just gotten permanently worse?
“LeBron doesn’t even look like a main option right now,” one executive told Pincus. “Neither does [Anthony Davis].. The Lakers have a ton of holes. They lack playmaking, shooting and perimeter defense… Once stars get old, you need young, athletic shooters who defend and bring a jolt of energy.”
This is not untrue. James is of course in his 20th NBA season, while Davis is in his 11th.
James hasn’t played regular season defense in years, in the hopes of preserving his body for the postseason. Of course, when your team is so bad that it is projected to miss the playoffs, that’s a bit of a problem. His shooting and even finishing around the rim have looked rough as well, though at least could be chalked up to the 37-year-old’s lingering foot soreness.
Davis has also fallen off mightily as a shooter, appears to have lost some athleticism, and seems to get hurt for half the year. He, too, is hurt right now, though he has mostly been able to play through his lower back tightness.
As Pincus notes, it seems like Los Angeles won’t be contending for a title even if it trades the expiring $47.1 million contract of sixth man Russell Westbrook. That said, a deal for more shooters and/or defense could really help L.A. Among other non-veteran’s minimum deals, the Lakers also probably ship out Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV or Kendrick Nunn. But will they?