Tomase: LeBron's implosion could have major implications for Kyrie, Celtics

John Tomase
March 08, 2019 - 10:59 am
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The recent visuals out of Los Angeles have been wretched, from LeBron James chucking an inbounds pass off the backboard to LeBron James rolling the ball all the way up the floor and straight out of bounds to LeBron James being shoved into a close-out by teammate Kyle Kuzma.

James isn't solely responsible for these horrible looks -- teammate Rajon Rondo watched the end of a recent game from a courtside seat instead of the bench -- but the NBA has revolved around King James for 15 years now, and that was before he played for one of its signature franchises.

The Lakers are a horrible, dysfunctional mess. At 30-35 they have almost zero hope of reaching the playoffs -- the numbers crunchers at Five Thirty Eight peg their chances at less than 1 percent -- and they're on the verge of going full tank. This has major implications for the Celtics.

As we debate Kyrie Irving's future, one landing spot that can't be discounted is L.A. Irving may hate TV cameras, but he loves movie ones, and after lifting Uncle Drew to decent box office and OK reviews, proximity to Hollywood must be appealing.

Irving's call to James to apologize for being a young nitwit greased the skids for a reconciliation after Irving forced his way out of Cleveland. A reunion would make sense in a normal world, allowing Irving to combine his entertainment aspirations with his title ones.

The problem is the Lakers are miles from contending, and James is to blame. He lost his younger teammates during the botched Anthony Davis negotiations, when the Pelicans gleefully leaked the names of every player the Lakers offered for the disgruntled superstar (though New Orleans now blames the Lakers for disclosing the names, which would be a curious act of self-sabotage). Aware their leader didn't want them, the youngsters revolted and the Lakers' play has been revolting ever since.

Since James returned, the Lakers are just 3-9. His second game back, after all of the Davis rumors went public, was a 42-point drubbing at Indiana that saw Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Co. quit on their leader.

Based on this season, why would any young superstar risk a pairing with James? The Lakers utterly lack supporting pieces, the bloom coming off Ingram, Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, among others. James is 34 and showing some age for the first time in his career after missing six weeks with a thigh injury. There's nothing to build around besides an aging superstar with questionable leadership skills, and the front office hasn't assembled a playoff team since 2013, either.

Joining the Lakers seem like the ultimate case of being careful what you wish for, and if L.A.'s dysfunction takes it out of the running for Irving, who has already balked at riding sidecar to LeBron once, it shrinks the field of contenders for the All-Star guard's services by one major market. Making matters worse, the relationship between the Pelicans and Lakers appears frayed enough to decrease the likelihood of Davis donning purple and gold, and he'd obviously be a major draw for some like Irving.

The Celtics can do their part to extend L.A.'s woes when they visit the Staples Center on Saturday night. The last time they met, the Celtics blew a 28-point lead and Rajon Rondo nailed the walk-off buzzer-beater.

After winning two straight and rediscovering some joy for the game, the Celtics appear well positioned to exact their revenge. It's certainly in their best interests to keep LeBron and Co. wallowing in misery.

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