By: Lucius Harvin, Staff Writer
When Lebron James made the decision to take his talents to Los Angeles the season was supposed to be different. James, coming off eight straight NBA finals with Miami and Cleveland, was immediately supposed to make the Lakers a title contender.
Experts predicted Los Angeles would make the Western Conference or even NBA finals and expected them to contend with the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship. However, the dream Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka had in place never surfaced as the Lakers stumbled through injuries, trade rumors and an extremely discombobulated team.
The season started off relatively well for the new-look Lakers. Magic Johnson combined a roster full of youth with Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, and added veterans Michael Beasley, Rajon Rondo, and Javale McGee to go alongside Lebron. On Christmas Day, the Lakers sat at 20-14 and had just blown-out the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a 127-101 victory. They sat at fourth in the Western Conference and one game back from the Oklahoma City Thunder for the third seed.
However, it was in that Golden State game that the Lakers got the news that Lebron James had pulled a groin and would be missing for an extended period of time. Many experts viewed Lebron’s injury as not serious, but his 34 year-old body had other ideas as he sat on the bench and watched his young teammates struggle.
A few games later, starting point guard Lonzo Ball went down with an ankle injury, thrusting this young Lakers team into the spotlight.
Down two starters, the Lakers drastically changed their approach to the season, and tried to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
The organization believed that if they paired another superstar with James, they would be able to compete for a championship. However, New Orleans was not having it.
The Pelicans believed the Lakers had tampered with Davis in having him request a trade and leaked intel on who the Lakers were planning on trading for the superstar. It turned out that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka had offered up almost everyone on their team for Davis.
When the trade rumors hit, the Lakers completely fell apart. The young Lakers suddenly could not play together and began to lose to teams near the bottom of the conference. Videos circulated of Lebron failing to play defense against Memphis, New Orleans and Phoenix.
The Lakers dysfunction continued throughout the season while Lebron has criticized his younger teammates for not having a “playoff mentality.” However, even after calling his teammates out, Los Angeles failed to perform and now sits at the bottom of Western Conference.
The Lakers have begun to become contenders for the top draft pick more than contenders for a playoff spot.