There’s a basketball game to be played inside Smoothie King Center later today, but when the New Orleans Pelicans (32-45) tip off against the Los Angeles Lakers (34-42) at 5 p.m. Central, lets hope Anthony Davis will not be in uniform.
Yesterday afternoon, the Lakers organization announced LeBron James would be shut down for the rest of the season.
Lakers are sitting out LeBron James for the rest of the season, team says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 30, 2019
The reason given for this decision was shrouded as a medical one.
“After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season,” Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.”
While I have little doubt LeBron missing their final six games is in the best future interests of the Los Angeles franchise, I have a problem with pointing the finger overwhelmingly at his groin.
James returned to action at the end of January, this after not playing since Christmas Day. Upon succumbing to the injury, an MRI initially showed no significant damage. James also mentioned on Twitter he had dodged a bullet and the Lakers designated him day-to-day on the injury report.
This incredibly conditioned athlete went on to spend more than a month of the sidelines, and when he returned, he suffered no drop off in statistical production. Since January 31, LeBron is averaging 27.5 points, 10.0 assists and 8.7 rebounds in over 36 minutes of action.
Moreover, James stated he would not sit games if healthy.
“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach as well as, most likely, everyone from general manager Rob Pelinka, to president Magic Johnson, to governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”
Thus far, no one from the Lakers has approached James about sitting out games to preserve his body, or improve their draft lottery odds.
”That conversation hasn’t occurred, but I’m sure it can happen soon,” James told ESPN.
Two days later, the Lakers decided to put LeBron on a minutes restriction and not allow him to play in back-to-back games.
BREAKING: @ChrisBHaynes reports Lakers will put LeBron on a minutes restriction and likely won't let him play back-to-backs. pic.twitter.com/02jI7UYIsp— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 7, 2019
The following day, head coach Luke Walton mentioned James’ groin wasn’t at 100% as the injury was still lingering.
Nothing from any physical standpoint of any of their players — Only reality had smacked them in the face.
The Lakers playoff chances were all but zero, and with everyone calling for James to be shut down, Los Angeles started preparing for that event. Things were rolling along smoothly: LeBron’s minutes were noticeable curtailed and the Lakers went on to lose nearly every game. From March 1 to the 22nd, L.A. dropped 10 of 11 games.
However, the Lakers have most recently enjoyed a remarkable turnaround, registering three wins in their last four games on the schedule.
Considering they own their 2019 first round pick and Magic Johnson and company have spent a lot of time watching top collegiate talent in person, the Lakers had real hopes of moving up in the draft lottery. Now their recent win streak has dropped them into a tie with the Timberwolves in the standings and there’s a real threat that their odds of jumping up into the top 4 of the draft could continue to worsen.
Hence, the asap shutdown of the best basketball player in the league, who was killing it —despite his limited run — and helping the Lakers add Ws to the victory column.
Look, I honestly have no issue with the Lakers doing what so many teams before them have done in this situation and roll out the tank. However, if that’s the case, the New Orleans Pelicans should no longer be held accountable by anyone and feel obligated to trot out Anthony Davis for 20-25 minutes per game.
As everyone’s known since AD’s trade request was made public, it’s most definitely in the best interests of the New Orleans Pelicans for Davis to not see another single minute the rest of this season!
(Oh yeah, geaux Pels!)
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (31-46) vs Los Angeles Lakers (34-42)
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
When: Tuesday, March 31, 2019. 5:00 PM CST
How: FSNO, 99.5 FM WRNO