By the looks of things, the Los Angeles Lakers appear to have accepted the strong possibility that, even with LeBron James’ arrival, they will be missing a sixth consecutive postseason. With the team currently sporting a 30-35 record, which puts them 6.5 games out of playoff seeding, the latest rumors suggest that the Lakers are planning to have James exit his so-called “playoff mode” and take it easy for the last 17 games.
As cited by NBC Sports, Yahoo Sports insider Chris Haynes reported on Thursday’s edition of The Spin that the Lakers will be having James enter a “cool-down” period to finish up the 2018-19 NBA season, now that the team is “almost out” of playoff contention at the moment. Should James miss the playoffs this season as expected, this would mark his first postseason absence since 2005, as noted by Slate.
“There was a conversation between LeBron James’ trainer and the front office, and they came to the conclusion that, moving forward, LeBron James will play with a minutes restriction of 28 to 32 minutes,” Haynes said. “And possibly, on back-to-backs, depending on how LeBron James feels, that he might sit out one of those back-to-backs.”
Although it’s still mathematically possible for the Los Angeles Lakers to rally in the final weeks of the 2018-19 season and sneak their way into the playoffs, Slate‘s report pointed out that most experts are giving the Lakers an extremely slim chance of pulling off such a feat. At the time of the publication’s report, ESPN’s latest forecasts gave the Lakers a 0.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, while FiveThirtyEight was more “optimistic” in predicting a 2 percent chance.
Much like other publications have done in recent weeks, Slate mentioned the Lakers’ failed attempt to trade for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis as one of the main driving factors behind the team’s recent collapse. However, the outlet stressed that the Lakers have yet to hit their lowest point, as they still have a chance to right their ship in the 2019 offseason.
“Rock bottom is getting beaten by the Knicks and the Clippers in free agency,” Slate wrote, referring to the chances the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers have of signing top free agents such as Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
While LeBron James has so far had a challenging 2018-19 season that also saw him miss 18 games with a groin injury, the four-time MVP has also had his share of high points this year. On Wednesday, James overtook Michael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, as he now sits at No. 4 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and Kobe Bryant, per ESPN.