It might be Opening Day in baseball, but the NBA’s regular season is coming to a close this weekend, and there’s still plenty to work out between now and then, but one of those things won’t be LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Trouble in Hollywood
On Tuesday night, a 121-110 loss to the top-seeded Phoenix Suns officially ended the Los Angeles Lakers’ hopes of reaching the NBA playoffs. The 31-48 Lakers are eliminated from contention, and there have been talks of head coach Frank Vogel being dismissed after the season. It seems wild to me that Vogel will fall on the sword for a team comprised of aging NBA veterans, the oldest team in NBA history, but we know that someone needs to be the scapegoat, and it’s not going to be LeBron James.
To LeBron’s credit, he is averaging 30.3 points per game (his highest scoring output since 2007) at 37.2 minutes per contest (his highest since 2016) for the Lakes this season, so he’s done what he can to carry a massively flawed roster.
LeBron has one year left on his deal with the Lakers that will pay him $44 million, accounting for a whopping 36 percent of the Lakers’ 2022-23 salary cap space.
The Los Angeles Lakers are officially eliminated from the NBA Playoffs pic.twitter.com/QgDkueL7KG
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 6, 2022
NBA Commish Not Happy with Star Players Not Playing
Adam Silver said recently that he’s not happy with “a trend of star players not participating in a full complement of games,” and he is hoping that the NBA Players Association can address the matter moving forward. Silver said that he doesn’t have a solution for the problem at the moment, but he’s considering incentivizing increased participation by star players in the future:
“I’m not standing here saying I have a great solution,” Silver said at a news conference in midtown Manhattan following this week’s two-day meeting of the Board of Governors. “Part of the issue is injuries. One of the things we have focused on at the league office, and we’re spending — we had begun to spend a lot of time on pre-pandemic — are there things we can do in terms of sharing information, resources around the league to improve best practices, rehabilitation?
“The other way we can get at it, in terms of player participation, is creating other incentives. The play-in tournament, I thought, was a beginning of creating renewed incentives for teams to remain competitive and be fighting for playoff position. It might be through in-season tournaments and changes in format where we can get at it.”
Silver also mentioned his displeasure on this topic during the NBA All-Star break in February.
New ESPN story: Adam Silver said today that he remains concerned that star players are “not playing in a full complement of games” and that the league may need to create new incentives to try to make that happen.https://t.co/aDsC8R6xJ7
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 7, 2022
NBA Play-In Tournament Schedule Released
With just four days remaining in the regular season, the NBA has released the play-in tournament schedule, including the Los Angeles Clippers’ first game on April 12, with them locked into the eighth seed. The New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs have also locked up their berths in the tournament, but they’re still fighting for seeding.
The schedule for next week's Meta Quest NBA Play-In Tournament ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/N9vdvUyIVF
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 7, 2022
And Ones …
• Mikal Bridges has played in 307 consecutive games (after last night’s contest with the Los Angeles Clippers)! That’s every game since being drafted in 2018. Thanks for passing on him, GarPax …
306 consecutive games played.
The longest active streak in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/8Oz8nCi7ld
— * – Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 7, 2022
• Damian Lillard trails only Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in career points per game by a point guard in NBA history:
Damian Lillard is 3rd all time in career Points Per Game for Point Guards in NBA history.
Oscar Robertson and Jerry West are the only two ahead of him. pic.twitter.com/7qwFRvWAbG
— Lillard Muse (@Lillardmuse) April 6, 2022
• The Boston Celtics have secured another 50-win season, giving them the most such seasons in NBA history. Boston has been the NBA’s best defensive team (by defensive rating) since January 1, and they have ranked inside of the top five in the NBA in offensive rating since we turned the calendar to 2022.
The Celtics now have the most 50+ win seasons in the NBA pic.twitter.com/zJ6smTOZAf
— CelticsMuse (@Celtics_Muse) April 7, 2022
• A heck of a night for Kevin Durant as KD and the Nets erased a 21-point deficit against the New York Knicks. Durant scored 32 points and logged 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a triple-double performance.
2 blocks pic.twitter.com/uKxF9WUKPp
— NBA (@NBA) April 7, 2022
• With just four days to go, there’s plenty left to decide in the battle for seeding in the NBA playoffs!
— NBA (@NBA) April 7, 2022
• Jaylen Brown has been ON FIRE lately. Brown has scored 25 or more points in his last 10 games and is averaging 28.5 points on 55.7 percent shooting and an unreal 50 percent shooting from three-point land.
Jaylen Brown has scored 25+ in 10 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 7, 2022
• JJ Reddick and KD discussed Giannis and his unmatched motor on a recent crossover episode of Durant’s The Boardroom and JJ’s Three and the Old Man:
"This guy wins 2 MVPs in a row. The following year, wins an NBA Finals, is the MVP of the Finals, has 50 in Game 6… in the close-out game. Short offseason, comes out looking for BLOOD."
JJ and KD on this amazing Giannis season 🔥 pic.twitter.com/gZBv7IJBjL
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) April 7, 2022
• Plenty of big-time action on the slate tonight!
Big-time scorers, big-time stakes!
Joel Embiid (44, 45 pts last 2 games), Nikola Jokic (4 straight w/ 37+), Jaylen Brown (10 straight w/ 25+) and Jordan Poole (17 straight w/ 20+) look to stay hot with their teams in tight races 🔥
— NBA (@NBA) April 7, 2022