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With the NBA regular season officially over, and the game’s top superstar missing in action for the first time in 15 years — that being LeBron James — the playoffs may lose a bit of luster.
With that being said, while the Golden State Warriors likely cruise to their third straight championship in four years, many fans’ eyes will be on which team lands the coveted top prize in this year’s draft in Duke’s Zion Williamson.
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound freak of nature was every bit as advertised and then some for the Blue Devils. Leading his team in virtually every category, his intangibles were just as impressive with the constant hustle plays and emphatic slams, sending Cameron Indoor into a crescendo instantly.
And while it is no guarantee, the New York Knicks did their absolute best in providing a nightly stink fest, that they managed to lose an impressive 65 out of 82 games, which strongly increased their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick.
Now back to LeBron.
His first season with the Lakers could be described as none other than a disaster. Yes, while healthy, (initially) James helped lead the Lakers to a top-four seed in the Western Conference with a 20-14 record. However, an untimely and unfortunate groin injury sidelined him for 17 games, and the 34-year-old could not regain his dominant form in his return.
The Lakers spiraled from what appeared to be a sure playoff team to one heading straight for the lottery.
Not only that, Laker fans truly have not embraced James. Sure, they like him, they are glad he’s donning the purple and gold, but the theatrics and drama he brings is apropos for the big screen — just not for the bright lights of the Staples Center.
Winning and championships is all they care about. Using their city as a means to bolster off-court ventures doesn’t work for Laker fans the way it may in, let’s say, Cleveland. The constant chatter about Space Jam 2, The Shop and countless other projects has turned off many fans who would love nothing more than to see James take his crown and go back to from where he came — or at least far away from Los Angeles.
So it is incumbent upon the Lakers to strongly consider trading James — especially if the Knicks secure the top pick.
Why? For starters, the Knicks have not won anything … in nearly 50 years. Not only that, New York would embrace James with wide open arms, as there is no native son hovering over his stature like a nebulous cloud (insert Kobe Bryant).
James would also have the opportunity to reunite with a coach he deeply respects in David Fizdale, an assistant on the championship Miami Heat teams that featured James.
Additionally, there are rumors of a James/Kyrie Irving reunion, and what better place to do that than in New York? Irving grew up in West Orange, N.J., a mere 55 minutes from Madison Square Garden, which is practically home for the 27-year-old.
It is clear Irving is not happy in Boston, and a change of scenery may be inevitable at this point.
The move makes sense. This will allow James to start over, and be in a place he is fully wanted, and go to a franchise that would appreciate his mere presence. It will also fulfill one of James’ desires to play in the mecca, and as he stated to Dwyane Wade during a hot mic exchange, “It was either going to be here or in the Garden,” referring to him either finishing his career in LA or in New York, where the two would play their last game against each other.
This decision will not be easy, but it is one that warrants strong consideration. The Lakers are a mess right now, and bringing Williamson in the mix to build with the already impressive young core makes so much sense on so many levels.
The question is, do the Lakers have the gall to do the unthinkable? Time will tell.