The slumping Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in sixth place in the Western Conference, tied with the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks and seventh-seeded Portland Trail Blazers. This has the Lakers in danger of participating in the play-in tournament.
Even with LeBron James and Anthony Davis back in the lineup after extended absences, the Lakers are struggling against lesser opponents. On Sunday night, the shorthanded Raptors faced off against the Lakers in a heated battle. Toronto pulled away and secured the win thanks in large part to Kyle Lowry. The Raptors point guard dominated the game, racking up 37 points (8-of-13 from beyond the arc) and 11 assists.
It was almost as if Lowry was punishing the Lakers for not getting a trade done before the deadline:
Seems like Kyle Lowry took the Lakers not pulling the trigger to trade for him personally.
Dude CAN’T MISS ?pic.twitter.com/ycN98BJkjw
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 3, 2021
Leading up to the deadline, the Lakers were one of the teams deep in negotiations to acquire Lowry. Trade talks involved Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope going to the Raptors, but haggling over Talen Horton-Tucker helped nuke the deal. Los Angeles didn’t want to part with the prized youngster in the deal, so there was no trade.
Not trading for Lowry could turn into a grave mistake for the Lakers’ front office. Even though he’s on the older side, Lowry is still one of the better point guards in the league. He brings toughness and championship experience to the table. While losing some depth in the Lowry trade would have been a tough pill for Los Angeles to swallo, getting the veteran point guard would have improved the team’s championship ceiling.
With Davis struggling in his return and LeBron still dealing with his ankle injury, the Lakers could be in some serious trouble this season, with a fifth championship for James looking somewhat in doubt at the moment. Had Los Angeles made the deal to acquire Kyle Lowry, the franchise would be in a better position.
Instead, the defending champs are fighting to stay out of the play-in tournament. The Lakers’ upcoming schedule is rather daunting, especially with Schroder out for around two weeks and the current issues surrounding their two superstars.
LeBron certainly doesn’t love the idea of having to participate in the play-in tournament:
“Whoever came up with that shit needs to be fired.” LeBron, not a fan of the play-in. BK
— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) May 3, 2021
At the end of the day, Kyle Lowry likely would have given the Lakers the boost they needed to avoid the play-in tournament altogether. His high-level point guard play would have helped Los Angeles remain in the top five of the Western Conference.
Instead, the Lakers are fighting for their lives.