When looking at the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent struggles, many aren’t quick to blame LeBron James.
It’s hard to blame the 15-time All-Star, who is one of the best to ever play the game, when he’s averaged nearly 29 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game, after all.
According to one NBA executive, however, James is absolutely at fault for ruining the chemistry among the team — specifically with how he handled himself while the Lakers were attempting to land Anthony Davis before the trade deadline earlier this month.
“He killed the (Lakers’) chemistry,” an NBA executive told Bleacher Report. “He shouldn’t have been so public about it. Even during the All-Star draft, he laughed about (wanting Davis to be his teammate).”
James and the Lakers were extremely public throughout the attempt to land the Pelicans superstar — something not generally seen in the NBA. It appeared to negatively impact the locker room on multiple occasions, too, something that cumulated with an “emotional exchange” between multiple veterans on the team and coach Luke Walton.
It’s easy to see how, with James and the front office being so open about wanting Davis, that others on the team could get frustrated and think that James doesn’t want to play with them.
The Lakers now hold a 29-30 record, marking the first time since a James-led team has fallen below .500 at this point in the year since the 2004-05 season — which was also the last time he failed to make the postseason. The Lakers are on the verge of missing out on the playoffs this year, as they sit in 10th in the Western Conference standings
He was brutally honest after the Lakers’ most-recent loss, too — a 128-115 loss to the Pelicans, who were playing without Davis. James implied that many on his team were accustomed to losing, and that they didn’t always arrive with the right mental and physical preparation needed.
“It’s how you approach the game every day,” James said on Saturday. “It’s how you think the game every day, it’s how you play the game, it’s how you prepare for the game, and that’s not even like, when you get to the arena. That’s like way before that.
“Basketball: If that’s not the most important thing, then why we doing this?”
Now, there are a lot of factors as to why the Lakers have struggled. They’ve had to deal with a multitude of injuries all year long, too — including James’ groin injury, which sidelined him for five weeks. Rajon Rondo missed a significant amount of time, and the team is currently without Lonzo Ball, who is recovering from an ankle sprain.
If the team is going to turn it around in its final 22 games and climb back into the Western Conference playoff race, having solid chemistry will be one of the most important factors.
Whether he likes it or not, that undoubtedly starts with James.
“It sucks that my injury happened and (Ball’s) injury happened and so many of our injuries happened,” James said, via Bleacher Report. “I’m so huge on, like, chemistry and camaraderie throughout the course of the season. ... The injuries have taken a toll on our team.”
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