The Los Angeles Lakers will close out their season on Tuesday the same way they started it in October: against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. However, unlike the start of the season, playoffs are the farthest thing from L.A.’s mind, at least for now.
Last month, the Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention, extending their playoff drought to six years and ending LeBron James’ impressive 13-year playoff streak, which is the second-longest active playoff streak behind Tony Parker. Despite this, the Lakers haven’t stopped trying to improve their win total, going 6-3 since being eliminated from the playoffs.
Those wins could very well be the reason the Lakers don’t land a top-10 pick in this summer’s draft, but they could also be the reason players like Alex Caruso, Jemerrio Jones and Johnathan Williams are back with the team next season. For a team that’s hoping to land a star or two this summer, it’s important for them to find a few diamonds in the rough within their organization.
That trio will have to lead the charge for the Lakers on Tuesday if they want to end the season on a high note by winning the season series over the Trail Blazers for the first time since the 2012-13 season. For context, that was Lillard’s rookie season and CJ McCollum’s senior season at Leigh University.
The real fireworks are expected to start after the game, though, as the offseason officially starts as soon as the final buzzer sounds. The first order of business? Figuring out what to do with head coach Luke Walton.
Walton has been on the hot seat all season and there’s a good chance Tuesday will be his last game on the sidelines for the Lakers after he failed to coach them to a playoff berth. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, we could find out Walton’s fate as soon as Tuesday night.
As Samuel L. Jackson once said: “Hold on to your butts.”
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on Spectrums SportsNet.