It’s understandable why the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled in the past few games. They are currently playing without the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, who suffered a groin injury in their Christmas day faceoff against the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors. However, it’s definitely unforgivable when the Lakers lost to a team who’s also playing without their lone superstar and holds the league’s worst record.
On Sunday night, the Lakers suffered a massive defeat from the hands of LeBron James’ former team, the Cavaliers. The Lakers let the Cavaliers take the lead early in the game and failed to become consistent with their performance on both ends of the floor. In a post-game interview, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton was clearly unhappy with his team’s performance and hinted at their plan to make major lineup changes in upcoming games.
“We might have to do something to the starting lineup right now,” Walton said. “Every game it feels like we’re giving up 30 points in the first quarter, so we’ll take a closer look at that. I really thought we’d come out with a little better energy. By the end of the games we’re doing a really nice job of stabilizing our defense and getting the stops we need, but we can’t just keep giving up 30 points to start the games. We’ll take a look at that and possibly make a change for Tuesday.”
If the Lakers were to fire Luke Walton right now, it would be the basketball equivalent of handing someone a bunch of lemons, demanding they make lemonade without sugar or water and then acting surprised when the result was too sour to handle. https://t.co/ZUL4P1lIMT
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 14, 2019
Coach Luke Walton didn’t say anything specific about the changes in their starting lineup, but according to Christian Rivas of SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll, the Lakers could be planning to replace Josh Hart with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as their starting shooting guard. Despite being mentioned in various trade rumors, Caldwell-Pope became one of the major contributors for the Lakers when LeBron James went down with an injury.
In the last 10 games, the veteran shooting guard is averaging 13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 42.1 percent shooting from the field and 35.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Josh Hart has shown some inconsistencies on the offensive end of the floor since the Lakers lost James, only averaging 10.4 points on 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 25.5 percent shooting from the three-point range.
Aside from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rivas also opened up the possibility that Coach Luke Walton may consider giving Michael Beasley a spot in the starting lineup. However, turning Beasley into a starter could force Walton to demote Kyle Kuzma to the bench which is highly unlikely to happen, especially with how the young power forward performed this season.