Less than a year ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were up 2-1 on the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs and it looked like they were primed for another championship run. Unfortunately, Anthony Davis hurt his groin in Game 4 and the team ended up dropping the next three games – leading to elimination. Instead of running it back with mostly the same roster, Los Angeles chose to completely overhaul it this past offseason.
In hindsight, that was a grave error as the Lakers have not been a good team this season. The team is 26-29 and is the ninth seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles was blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 131-116 on Tuesday. They were even down by 30 points at a point during the game. It’s clear the Lakers aren’t at the Bucks’ level right now and LeBron James knows it.
“It tells us we ain’t on their level. I could’ve told you that before the game started,” LeBron said when asked if the loss to the Bucks revealed anything to him about the team.
Those were some blunt words from the superstar, who did what he could in the loss – scoring 27 points. He didn’t stop there.
“Where they are right now? I don’t know,” LeBron said after a follow-up question. “Do I think we can reach the level where Milwaukee is right now? No. Is that what you want to hear from me? No. You want a follow-up? I would hope [we can reach their level], but right now, no. We can’t get to where they are right now. They’re the defending champions for a reason and I guarantee you if you would’ve asked teams coming out of the bubble if they could get to the level that we were playing at when we won a championship, they would’ve said the same thing.”
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Lakers Players Know Changes Need to Be Made
LeBron’s comments certainly raised some eyebrows. This is the bluntest he’s been about the team this season. Whenever LeBron gets frustrated, big changes almost always come. The Lakers have been involved in many trade rumors this season but nothing has come to fruition. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Bucks loss may have been the breaking point for the team and even the players are ready for moves to be made:
A troubling loss to the defending champion Bucks on Tuesday night led to an uneasy admission within the Lakers’ locker room: The roster is not working, and something must be done to get the team back on course with Thursday’s trade deadline fast approaching.
The suspicion had been mounting for weeks, if not months, for a Lakers team built with a title in mind, sources told ESPN. Thrashing along at 26-29 following the 131-116 loss to the Bucks, the clarity of the acknowledgment was tied to timing, sources said.
There’s No Season-Saving Trade Available
Anybody could look at the Lakers right now and know that they need to make a trade if they hope to salvage this season. However, they gave up all of their future flexibility when they traded for Russell Westbrook in the offseason. Considering the former MVP didn’t even play a second in the fourth quarter against the Bucks, it’s safe to say that the trade was a complete failure.
There’s no Pau Gasol trade out there for the Lakers right now so the best they can hope for is landing a new role player or two who helps rejuvenate a bad roster. At this point, unloading Westbrook for John Wall should be considered. Wall isn’t the player he once was but benching him in the fourth quarter wouldn’t be a huge national news story and a distraction.