Lakers are now in the valley of postseason exodus

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – One and done. There will be no champagne-popping this year. The Los Angeles Lakers season was nothing more than an illusion. A mirage. Let’s pretend we see something that we don’t really see. At the end of the day, the Lakers were not good enough to win the NBA title, a championship they won last season with just about a whole different roster altogether.

As great as he is, LeBron James was not good enough. Anthony Davis, and all of his plethora of injuries, was not good enough. The rest of the roster all but disappeared in the Phoenix series. They certainly were not good enough.

And nobody better ever tell me that Dennis Schroder is a max-out $84 million player, especially not after the way he flamed out at the end of the Phoenix series.

And quite frankly, the Lakers coaching staff were not good enough to come up with another resolution to stop the Phoenix Suns from having their way the last two games of their first-round playoff series against their Pacific Division rivals. When you lose in the first round as the Lakers did to the Suns, you are what you are.

Anthony Davis (3) passing the ball to LeBron James in a game against the Phoenix Suns in 2019. File photo/Mark Hammond for News4usonline
Anthony Davis (3) passing the ball to LeBron James (23) in a game against the Phoenix Suns in 2019. File photo/Mark Hammond for News4usonline

There is no beating around the bush about it. It may come as a shock to some people, but in reality, the Lakers played like the No. 7 seed that they were. There was nothing about the Lakers that wowed you this season. Certainly, in their series against Chris Paul and the Suns, the Lakers showed nothing.

Let me take that back. The Lakers showed that they are an old, injury-riddled, and less talented team than we thought they were. They were nothing but paper champions. This was not a 27 or a 28-year-old James that we saw on the floor. We saw a 36-year-old guy who still has greatness in him, but a player who cannot single-handily carry a team anymore.

Those days are over with. Up until this season, James had never lost a playoff series in the first round. After dropping 47 points in Game 6 to help the Suns close out the Lakers in six games (4-2), Devin Booker made sure to put that mark on James’ postseason checklist.

We saw Davis revert back to the injury-prone player that he was before he came over to the Lakers. We saw Schroder play like the career journeyman point guard that he is. We saw Montrezl Harrell become useless in the postseason after coming over from the Los Angeles Clippers.

What was the point of even adding Harrell to the roster if he was not going to be used against the Suns?

We saw that Andre Drummond doesn’t exactly fit into the Lakers scheme. We saw Kyle Kuzma disappear. We saw that Marc Gasol has become nothing more these days but a lumbering afterthought and should retire. And he saw head coach Frank Vogel and his staff lack enough answers to solve the riddle of the Suns in this series.

The signs have been there all season long. We chose to ignore those signs. All this talk about a healthy Davis and a healthy James would have guided the Lakers to a repeat was nothing but foolish chatter. They were not that team this year. This Lakers team as it is currently constructed is not winning any more titles.

With a much older James, and the injury of Davis catching up, the Lakers have to look hard and deep in regards to what direction they want the franchise to go in. It’s crystal clear that the Lakers need a young stud like Memphis Grizzlies star Ja’ Morant to be the face of the organization.

Because of his injury history, Davis cannot be that guy. He’s not reliable. In a couple of years, James will be in retirement. With his hands in other projects like Space Jam: A New Legacy, James is already prepping for post-basketball life. So, what are the Lakers prepared to do? Whatever they decide to do, they have the entire summer to try to figure it out.

Phoenix, behind the unguardable Booker and the steady leadership of Paul, were central proponents in helping the Lakers settle for an early summer vacation. Phoenix was clearly the better team going into this matchup-with or without a healthy Davis. And please spare me that garbage about if Davis was healthy, things would have been different.

The Houston Rockets and Miami Heat could have made that argument last season in the postseason. So let’s just cut the bull. Even if the Lakers were to have found a way to beat Phoenix, this team was not going to come out of the Western Conference.

There was too much inconsistent play from role players. James played great in spurts but it wasn’t always sustainable. Davis became a man missing from action for half of the season. And yet for some reason, the Lakers were still favorites to beat the Suns pretty handily. Talk about disrespect.

Phoenix came into their playoff series as the No. 2 team in the Western Conference. The Lakers? Oh, they were the No. 7 seed. It didn’t matter to a lot of folks. The Lakers were the defending champions. And based on pedigree, the Lakers probably accumulated some sort of false narrative that they were that great team again.

Well, I guess a lot of people are second-guessing themselves the morning after.

Many people predicted the Lakers would beat the Suns in nothing more than five games, a mere speed bump before they would then move on to the next round. Well, a not-so-funny thing happened to James, Davis, and the rest of the Lakers: they got beat. Soundly. To beat a champion, you have to knock them down and then put your foot on their throats and not let up.

Booker, Paul, and the rest of the Suns did just that. They didn’t give the Lakers an easy out. They came in, kicked butt and took names. For starters, that would be the Lakers.

Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) defends against Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) during the second quarter of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Jun 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. Caldwell-Pope was charged with a flagrant foul. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)