LeBron James Lakers Drama Continues To Hang Over Team
The bizarre drama that has hung over the heads of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers continues to bewilder the NBA community.
Coming into the NBA Bubble, the Lakers were widely regarded as the favorites to win the championship. Them clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference seemed inevitable, as did an eventual Finals appearance.
Five games into bubble action, however, LA seems rattled. The team has lost three of its last 4 outings and shown zero chemistry.
Heading into Saturday’s showdown against a tough Indiana Pacers squad, there are very legitimate questions regarding which Lakers squad will show up.
On one hand, the group is getting James back from his groin injury – which is obviously good.
Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (ankle) will play today against the Indiana Pacers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 8, 2020
However, it is unclear whether that will actually make a difference.
LeBron James, Lakers Are Dealing With Some Mysterious Issue
Earlier in the week, both James and head coach Frank Vogel suggested that there was some big, mysterious issue hanging over the team. Both men made the situation sound dire and ominous, without providing much clarity on specifics.
In explaining why the Lakers are struggling at Disney, LeBron said there was something going on, off the court, that he couldn’t control, and he’d rather not discuss. That sounds…ominous? Final Thoughts from OKC-LAL https://t.co/b3382do3Ir
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) August 6, 2020
Frank Vogel was asked if Lakers are considering a lineup change. “We’ll see,” he said. “We’re looking at everything, but it’s bigger than that.”
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) August 6, 2020
There have been a number of theories as to what the problem is, with none of them confirmed.
Some suggested that the absence of Avery Bradley, and his complete lack of desire to participate in anything team-related, killed morale.
Danny Green says Avery Bradley has been “distant” since he opted out of the season, but that the standard he set on defense has stayed with the team.
— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) July 29, 2020
Others believe Rajon Rondo’s absence has really hurt from a leadership perspective.
Then there is the fact that Dion Waters and J.R. Smith, two notoriously difficult personalities, have not yet found their groove with a team they haven’t spent the majority of the season with.
Finally, some have posited that Dwight Howard’s bizarre social justice campaigning during the COVID-19 season suspension coupled with the lightning rod that is James have messed with chemistry issues on the team.
And of course that is to say nothing of the fact that Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green have both been horrendous over the last five games – with Anthony Davis picking up the slack in some ways, but not others.
LeBron James, Lakers Starting To Worry Some
All in all, it is still too early to panic, but people are definitely taking notice of the fact that this is not the same Lakers team that dominated large swaths of the regular season pre-bubble.
NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith said this much during a recent interview.
“I would say it’s not concerning yet, but it’s starting to get concerning,” Smith said of the Lakers’ issues.
“Definitely early bubble struggles but we don’t know how long they’re lasting because there’s only eight games to get ready for the playoffs,” he continued.
“I think the lack of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo is bigger than you would have thought, only because when the second unit comes in, there seems to be no continuity yet.”
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) August 7, 2020
There is still plenty of time for the Lakers to right this ship. It is not unusual for James-led teams to end the year in average form, only to ramp things up in the postseason. However, that is always a dangerous game. Chemistry heading into the playoffs is always better than the alternative.
If the Lakers don’t sharpen up soon, what was once a great season could quickly end in disappointment.