Around the Association: Trouble in Hollywood, Incentivizing Stars to Play More, Play-In Tournament Schedule Released, More

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.

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.

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.

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 …

•   Damian Lillard trails only Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in career points per game by a point guard in NBA history:

https://twitter.com/Lillardmuse/status/1511811902577336321?s=20&t=WU-A2k9LwWyiyt4_utmdSQ

•   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.

•   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.

•   With just four days to go, there’s plenty left to decide in the battle for seeding in the NBA playoffs!

•   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.

•   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:

•   Plenty of big-time action on the slate tonight!

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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