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NOT HIS USUAL KINGLY SELF: In the seven seeding games LeBron James participated in, the four-time league MVP averaged 22.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists on 44.9/34.1/65.8 shooting splits. And through two playoff games, his numbers fall even further to 16.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.5 assists on paltry 41.9/12.5/66.7 splits.
Suffice to say, those aren’t James’ usual King-like numbers, and they’re a far cry from the 25.7/7.9/10.6 stat line he put up in the regular season prior to the bubble.
So what gives? Do the Lakers have reason to be concerned with James?
Right now, it’s hard to say.
There’s a chance James is just working his way back into his peak 2019-20 form after such an extended layoff, though one would have hoped by now, two games into the playoffs, we’d be seeing that version of LeBron already. Another solid theory is that he’s biding his time, believing the depleted Blazers will fall by the wayside eventually, in hopes of getting Anthony Davis to reach an even higher level of dominance ahead of what project to be tougher series coming up for the Lakers.
Or maybe the sore right groin is bothering him more than he or the team has let on, and he’s just playing through the pain.
Regardless, the Lakers are going to need peak LeBron to show up over the coming weeks, because the loaded West is unforgiving and the next few weeks of competition will be brutal for all involved.
LONZO ON THE MOVE… AGAIN? ESPN’s Jay Williams revealed yesterday that he’s been hearing the Pelicans could be planning to use Lonzo Ball as a trade chip. It wouldn’t be too shocking, since Ball has one year left on his deal, and New Orleans, a team not known for its spending, will already have to pay Brandon Ingram this summer a handsome fee to keep him around.
Ball would be a great pickup for anyone depending on the price, as the young ball-handler is merely the 142nd-highest-paid player this season.
TOP PICKS ON THE MOVE? Just a day after the 2020 draft lottery, there’s already talk the No. 1 and No. 2 pick holders, Minnesota and Golden State, could be willing to trade down. Not surprising, since this is considered a weaker overall class without a consensus top prospect.
NEXT SEASON START DATE: It’s looking more and more likely that the 2020-21 season won’t kick off until some time in 2021.
PRIORITIZING THEIR GUY: The Wizards will make sharpshooter Davis Bertans their top priority in free agency this offseason.
We have Bertans ranked as the 10th-best free agent set to come available.
BIG GM SEARCH: The Kings smartly parted ways with Vlade Divac after years of futility, and the search for their next general manager is on. Some interesting candidates are already being discussed, including Brent Barry, who has been the Spurs’ VP of basketball ops since 2018, Toronto’s Bobby Webster and Miami’s Adam Simon.
COACHING SEARCH: We talked to league execs, coaches and scouts about who the Bulls should hire as their next head coach. Some really interesting answers there.
FUN RANKINGS: We decided to rank the 14 non-playoff teams by who has the brightest future. Bit of a divisive topic there, especially near the top.
FRESH POD: Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce joined our own Michael Scotto to discuss burgeoning star Trae Young, this year’s free agency and much more.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Ever wonder what it’s like for a player and agent to part ways? We talked to various agents about what it’s like to get fired.
DAME TIME: We break down the science behind the mythical Dame Time, when Damian Lillard takes over in the clutch. Spoiler alert: Dame Time is very real.
MORE THAN ONE PLAYER: Did you know the Raptors have won more regular-season games than anyone else over the past five years? Now you know that. For more on that topic, click here.