Last summer, LeBron James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in his career. This time, the aim was to revitalize the most famous NBA franchise, and bring the LA Lakers back to the big time. Thus far, it hasn’t gone well.
The arrival of LeBron in LA seemed likely to make the Lakers once again the kings of Los Angeles basketball. The Lakers have floundered in mediocrity in recent years, a situation resounded by their neighbours Clippers’ relative success, which shifted the usual pecking order in Los Angeles. That all looked set to change this year. The glitch in the Matrix would be repaired. LeBron James was here.
LEBRON ➡️ LABRON pic.twitter.com/keTps0f9Yx
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 10, 2018
Coming off the back of eight straight finals appearances, James seemed destined to bring the Lakers back to the upper hierarchy of the NBA. Young players like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma looked set to grow into young stars and carry the Lakers into a new era. However, it hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, for a number of reasons.
For one thing, the help the Lakers decision makers have provided LeBron has been questionable at best.
One of the most adored and respected Lakers of all time, Magic Johnson, took over as the team’s General Manager in 2017, and outside of James, both his and his assistant GM Rob Pelinka’s acquisitions have left a lot of fans scratching their heads.
Players like JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo aren’t the most complimentary pieces to a player like James, and saddled the Lakers with a team lacking in floor spacing and searching for a defensive identity.
Additionally, injuries have led to the trio of James, Ingram and Ball playing just 30 games together.
That’s not to say that none of the blame lies with LeBron James himself, who has put up pathetic defensive efforts in multiple games this season. Despite James’ public questioning of the younger players’ priorities and focus, many frustrated fans have returned the question of the man himself.
Did LeBron James come to Los Angeles for basketball reasons, or to expand his personal empire? He has plenty of other priorities outside of the game, including a number of individual artistic roles since arriving in Hollywood. Space Jam 2 has already been announced, even if its release date is a full two years away, and who knows what else is to follow for probably the biggest name in American sport.
The trade rumors and public fiasco surrounding NBA superstar Anthony Davis and most of the Lakers roster haven’t helped team chemistry as well. Basically all of the Lakers roster apart from James were dangled to the New Orleans Pelicans according to multiple reports.
The Lakers have offered a new package to New Orleans that includes multiple young players, multiple draft picks and Pelicans salary cap relief for Anthony Davis, league sources tell ESPN. The offer appears to move closer to the objectives that the Pelicans are pursuing in a deal.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 4, 2019
No deal was made but these reports may have caused a rift in the locker room with a lack of security for many players. However, LeBron has been at the spotlight for more than a decade and his teams have overcome similar obstacles.
While LeBron’s regular season funk hasn’t been the norm in his career, it’s also not unheard of. This time though, the switch might not be there to be flipped.
Since stating he would activate “playoff mode”, the Lakers have gone 2-6, and practically lost all hopes of making the playoffs. After an unprecedented run of eight consecutive finals appearances since 2011, LeBron James will not even make the NBA Playoffs in 2019, barring an unparalleled turn around. With the Lakers currently six and a half games out of the playoffs with 17 games remaining, reports have come out suggesting the Lakers may even be pondering resting James for the rest of the season.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 7, 2019
People never thought it would come so soon, but Father Time might finally be catching up on LeBron James.