Editor’s Note: The morning after this story first published, the Lakers announced that LeBron James was ruled out against the Suns. Anthony Davis (right mid-foot sprain) remains questionable.
Original story follows.
The Lakers have four more games left to play this season, and with their hopes of making the play-in tournament bleaker than ever, it’s fair to ask the question: Is it time to shut LeBron James and Anthony Davis down for the season?
James and Davis are obviously not 100% healthy right now as they continue to deal with their respective injuries. James, who needs to play two more games in order to qualify for the scoring title this season, said his ankle felt horrible after Friday’s game vs. the Pelicans. The same goes with Davis, who visibly played hurt after aggravating his foot injury on Sunday (a game James missed). And seeing how the Lakers have played the last six games, is risking their superstars’ health still worth it when this team has no hope anyway?
Theoretically, the Lakers still have a chance to make the play-in tournament. The purple and gold have to win their next four games (on the road at Pheonix, Golden State and Denver, and at home vs. OKC) and hope that the San Antonio Spurs lose their remaining four games (against Denver, Minnesota, Golden State, and Dallas).
Sure, maybe it’s still worth a try, and maybe making the play-in tournament would still be nice, but if this small chance at losing in the first round comes at the potential expense of compromising their superstars’ health entering the offseason, maybe it’s time the team re-thinks their priorities.
Just spoke to Anthony Davis before Lakers host Nuggets. Asked him how his foot is holding up. He said he’s feeling some pain.— Ros Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) April 3, 2022
All game. All the time. All motions. Jumping, landing, all of it.
More updates pregame on #Hoopsteams 12PT on @ESPN Twitterhttps://t.co/kuOfO0tEG1
Because the last thing the Lakers really want here is to begin what looks like a long summer ahead with their superstars recovering from worse injuries.
And it’s not like the Lakers are playing good basketball and winning games when their superstars suit up. Los Angeles is 4-16 since the All-Star break, and in those four wins, James had to average 45 points. Yes, you read that right — the Lakers needed James to score 50 or more points just to nab two of those four wins.
To add insult to injury, the Lakers have also been the worst non-rebuilding team in the league since halfway through the season. Compared to the mediocre Pelicans (who are 19-18 since) and the up-and-down Spurs (18-19), the Lakers have gone a horrific 10-27. That’s even worse than the rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers’ record of 11-26.
So yes, call me out for sounding like a quitter here, but it’s time to pack it up and start booking trips to Cancun instead of fighting for a lost season. The Lakers need to save their superstars from themselves, especially when they’re just continuing to get embarrassed on national television anyway, a trend that will likely continue (for hopefully the final time) against the Suns on Tuesday.
Notes and updates
- Speaking of James (left ankle sprain) and Davis (right mid-foot sprain), both are listed as questionable for Tuesday's game. David also addressed criticism from fans and former players in a one-on-one interview with Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike. It’s a must-read if you want to know more about the superstar’s frustrations with his injuries this year.
Spoke 1-on-1 with Anthony Davis yesterday about playing through pain amid criticism. “I’m not going to sit down and quit if I feel like I can at least get out there. If I’m 60%, 70%, whatever, I think my 70% is better than a lot of guys’ 100%.” https://t.co/HJeqleWqje— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 4, 2022
- Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) is out while Mason Jones (two-way contract) is with the South Bay Lakers.
- The Suns (62-16) have the opportunity to set a new franchise record for wins in a season against the Lakers on Tuesday. It also appears Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will be back on the lineup tomorrow after resting from their previous game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, as neither are listed on the Suns’ injury report.
- In case you missed it, our guy Magic Johnson went on a media tour today to inaccurately blast his former team on national television and ruin every Lakers fan’s morning. But while his misinformed soliloquies were annoying, they are good practice for all of us to get ready for a ton more criticism just like it as the summer unfolds.
- For news around the league, if you’re keeping up with the MVP race, it seems it still remains a tight race between Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, and Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Tip-off for the Lakers will be Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV and Spectrum SportsNet.