For the first time in a long time, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James will not participate in postseason basketball. Unfortunately for the Lakers, this marks their sixth consecutive season of missing the playoffs. When signing with the team last summer, the least hope was that James’ addition would end the streak of what was then five straight seasons on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Alas, that was not meant to be.
In a season marred by injuries to James, point guard Lonzo Ball and forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, their absences proved to be too much to overcome, thus leading to the Lakers being in the position they are in.
When news of James’ signing became public knowledge, the NBA’s Eastern Conference breathed a collective “Whew.” In the previous eight years (split evenly between stints with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers), LeBron and his respective team had not only made the playoffs but advanced all the way to the NBA Finals.
James had many critics to find fault with making so many trips to the championship round while coming away with “only” three series victories to show for those efforts. In contrast, his supporters would argue that the feat of making so many consecutive appearances was an accomplishment that deserved to be lauded. His signing brought Lakers fans dreams of championship banner(s) being raised, adding to their tally of championships, which presently stands at 16, second only to the 17 won by the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they would be forced to wait.
Perhaps a new sidekick will join the team and provide some much-needed assistance to enhance their prospects. With several players having expiring contracts, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka, have a busy summer awaiting them. The personnel decisions these two make will be critical if the Lakers are to end their playoff drought.
With several top-tier free agents being available, the hope is that the allure of playing for a storied franchise such as the Lakers, alongside an all-time great in LeBron James, will prove too much to resist, with the expectation being the potential free-agent addition, along with the players that come on board, will be enough to end the postseason-less year streak at six. The urgency is especially critical for Magic Johnson, as he is on record as saying he would step down is he is unsuccessful in getting the team in position to win/make the playoffs.
For now, patience has to be a virtue in Hollywood. Come mid-April, when the regular season reaches its conclusion, so will the Lakers season. With no playoffs to prepare for/look forward to, the next task at hand for the players will be to clean out their lockers and decide what vacation spot will be the destination of choice. LeBron has tried to put a somewhat positive spin on things by indicating his body could use the rest he will have, given the consecutive years of deep playoff runs he has participated in. While that may be true, Lakers’ fans would rather his postseason tally continue to accrue games and minutes. Seeing as how that won’t be the case, an exercise in patience is necessary, as unfortunately, they will have to wait ‘til next year.