Just as with every other Monday on “Locked on Lakers,” it’s time to open up the iTunes mailbag and see what you, the listener, want to hear about. The answer in resounding fashion this week: The postseason, and whether or not LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will be participating.
As things currently stand, the Lakers are three games out of the eighth spot, trailing both the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings — two little brother organizations that would like nothing more than to play spoiler for the team that has tormented them for essentially their entire existences.
The Lakers also have a tougher remaining schedule than both the Kings or Clippers, and no one they’ll play against will be remotely interested in letting them slide by on any given night. No, if the Lakers are going to squeak into the playoffs, they will have legitimately earned it.
As simple as this might sound, it’s going to come down to how much James has left in the tank. Hoping for James to have a Harden-esque run of crazy scoring is probably too much to wish for at this stage of his career, but really, I’d happily take consistent energy on both ends of the court. The Lakers play to the level of their leader, and if James takes any night off over the remaining 25 games, he and the Lakers will be risking falling further down the standings. They can’t have that.
Furthermore, and not to reinvent the wheel here, but they’ll have to get and stay healthy — something they’ve shown a complete inability to do this season. Lonzo Ball has to return, and when he does, hit the ground running. With Ivica Zubac now in the locker room across the hall, JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler have no safety net for either lackadaisical play or Father Time’s effect on their abilities.
Last but not least, the Lakers will have to find their enjoyment in the game again. Heading into the All-Star Break, Kyle Kuzma said they just have to get back to having fun. He was right to say so, but it’s easier said than done amidst endless rumors about your future.
This is probably where James has to step up the most. Enough with the passive aggressive behavior. It hasn’t worked. He needs to show his teammates that they’re worth his time and effort. If he doesn’t, the Lakers will miss out on the postseason — a hugely disappointing end to James’ first season in L.A.
Also covered in this episode: The Zubac trade, favorite Lakers role players of all time, the next Lakers’ coach and plenty more. The full discussion can be listened to below, and make sure to subscribe on iTunes, where you can also leave questions in the form of a five-star review to guarantee your topic makes the show.