Despite having the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, on their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are set to miss the Western Conference Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. With James' inability to end the Lakers' playoff drought, some people can't help themselves but compare him to five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
In a recent interview with TMZ (transcribed by Amico Hoops), retired NBA player Baron Davis, who currently works as a studio analyst on NBA on TNT, revealed one of the things Kobe Bryant could do that LeBron James couldn't at his current age. Davis believes that a 34-year-old Bryant would have carried the Lakers to the Western Conference Playoffs this season.
However, Baron Davis also said that LeBron James shouldn't take all the blame for the Lakers' failure to reach the postseason. Aside from struggling to immediately build good chemistry, the Lakers were also hit by multiple injuries this season.
"I also think the Lakers had a chance," Davis said. "But due to circumstance and injuries and (crap) like that — you know, you can't just put all the blame on LeBron. I think the Lakers got disconnected with what they was trying to do, what they mission was. And the trades and all that."As Baron Davis noted, the other thing that contributed to the Lakers' struggle is their failed acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans before the February NBA trade deadline. As someone who played in the NBA for 13 years, Davis believes it's hard for players to keep their focus on the game if their names were being mentioned in trade rumors.
"That (crap) don't ball well for nobody, dawg," Davis said. "It's tough to play for somebody and give your heart and soul to somebody and your name is on the trading block. So when you're young, it's hard to bounce back from that (crap)."
In their final attempt to acquire Anthony Davis before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers have reportedly offered their entire young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart. Most of the players involved knew that the NBA is a business, but they admitted that being on the trading block have greatly affected their on-court performance.
After suffering another disappointing season, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are expected to be more aggressive in finding another superstar to pair with LeBron James. The Lakers have enough salary cap space to offer a max contract in the 2019 NBA free agency and the trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal next summer.