The Lakers have been one of the hottest NBA teams in recent weeks. Without Anthony Davis sidelined by injury, LeBron James carried the historic franchise on his back to win five straight games and put the Lakers in a play-in battle. They defeated Atlanta and Charlotte before defeating the Heat, minus James, defeating the Hawks at home and away to Sacramento in a true thriller. Always with James as a reference, except for the day in Miami. This is a different Lakers entry in 2023.
Since Christmas Day, King has played seven games with a 5–2 record. Along the way, he’s averaging 35 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists on 56.4% shooting from the field (despite shooting 21% from 3-pointers). Since his birthday, December 30, the Lakers have been undefeated and James has scored 38 points, one point for each year. In his 20th season, LeBron continues to play at an MVP level and after Davis returns, if he maintains the level he showed before the injury, the Lakers can dream of everything, although they will need to improve roster levels. would be required.
Right now the Lakers’ management has to make, arguably, the most difficult decision of all the general managers in the NBA. The dilemma is clear: To stake everything on this season or not. And it sounds like a simple dilemma, but it has huge long-term implications. The two main assets they have in Los Angeles to improve the team are the 2027 and 2029 rounds, with LeBron the Lakers’ latter two picks going to be worth the gold. They’re the most coveted asset on the market, but Rob Pelinka still hasn’t decided whether the time has come to use them.
There are solid arguments for both sides, but LeBron has taken a position. In an interview with reporter Sam Amick of The Athletic after the win against the Kings. LeBron kept pointing out that his job in the locker room was on track, and he didn’t have time to pressure franchise management. His only concern was playing basketball, but before leaving, after a brief but intense pause, he delivered a devastating message: “You all know what the fuck that must be. I don’t need to talk.” Rarely has he been so blunt.
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The Lakers are currently out of play-in position, but they are just three games out of fifth in a very tight Western Conference from Dallas, fourth now, and Oklahoma, up thirteenth. Making it straight to the playoffs is the difference of the game or being left out, but to bridge that gap, strengthening the team is essential. That offensive theory is where LeBron James is located. A team with two players like James and Eddie always has to compete no matter what the cost, especially when both are playing at this level.
The cost, in this case, using the first round (or both) of a future draft where LeBron would no longer be involved. And much less if he continues to publicly say he’d like to share a dressing room with his son, Bronny James, should he reach the draft in 2024: Right now the Lakers don’t have their first-round draft pick for that year, Something that would first make it hard to imagine a future for LeBron in Los Angeles. For this reason, there is a second mindset, which is much more conservative and realistic.
This team has a very slim chance of getting a ring, or even making it through multiple rounds of the playoffs, as much as they have LeBron and Davis in the locker room. The roster is flawed, and compared to Denver, New Orleans, Memphis or even defending champion Golden State, the Lakers are just light years away. They strive for it, but there is a huge disparity in talent. For this reason it is better to keep two assets as important as the first round of 2027 and 2029, only two can be moved.
Next month, before February 9th, the Lakers must decide which route to take. If they want to continue the battle with LeBron James and Anthony Davis and bet on the current one, or keep the current squad and accept the real fate. The Lakers dream of the playoffs, but without real change, this team is not going to compete for a ring. Rob Pelinka’s turn.