Can Lakers pull together for playoff push after not landing AD?

  • Nick Celario

Prior to the NBA regular season start, I predicted that the LA Lakers would get a top-four seed in the playoffs and that LeBron James would win MVP.

Now the Lakers would be very fortunate to get the eighth seed, and James is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005 after making eight straight trips to the NBA Finals.

The NBA trade deadline has past, and Pelicans star Anthony Davis is still New Orleans after weeks of speculation that a trade would happen.

It was reported by ESPN the day before the deadline that the Lakers offered a package of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac and two first-round picks. The Pelicans didn’t even nibble at the offer.

Now, the team appears to be in disarray after failing to land Davis.

Pundits are speculating that James and the front office have alienated the team’s young core of players — the evidence being the Lakers’ 136-94 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, which was the worst loss of James’ career, and the image of James sitting by himself away from his teammates on the Lakers bench.

Things weren’t helped when Pistons fans chanted, “LeBron’s gonna trade you!” when Ingram, Kuzma and JaVale McGee took shots at the free throw line.

It’s also been speculated that head coach Luke Walton will be scapegoated and will be fired at some point this season.

And now, there’s a conspiracy theory floating around that the Pelicans all along never intended to trade Davis and that the organization intentionally strung along the Lakers to cause discord for tampering.

The Lakers in the meantime have made trades before Thursday’s deadline — just not the one everyone was expecting.

  • guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a second-round pick were sent to the Detroit Pistons for guard Reggie Bullock
  • Zubac and Michael Beasley were traded to the LA Clippers for center Mike Muscala. Muscala was traded to the Clippers from the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this week in a trade that sent Tobias Harris to Philadelphia.

So now we have to look forward to what deals go down this summer. This year’s slew of expected free agents include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Kemba Walker.

It’s unlikely Durant will team up with James in LA, but the thought of any one or two of these other players ending up with the Lakers is enticing.

And I don’t think the doors are shut on the possibility of AD eventually going to LA. Only time will tell.

But for now, there’s still plenty of basketball left in 2019.

The NBA All-Star Game is just around the corner, and then the Lakers have the second half of the season to figure things out.

The Lakers currently are 28-27 and are just outside of the top-eight in the Western Conference.

Can the Lakers rally to make a push for the postseason? If there are hard feelings, can the players put them aside for the sake of getting the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2013?

Again, only time will tell. But whether it’s a winning season or a Dumpster fire of a season, LeBron’s first year in purple and gold sure has been eventful.


Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or


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