The Los Angeles Lakers are off to a historically slow start to begin their 2022-23 campaign, and to make matters worse, LeBron James made an early departure during Wednesday’s 114-101 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Richard Jefferson, a former player turned ESPN analyst and ex-teammate of James, doesn’t believe the Lakers are sidelining the 37-year-old veteran as a load management move. James is listed as day-to-day, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“This is not load management,” Jefferson said on ESPN’s “NBA Today” on Thursday. “This is, ‘He is 37 years old,’ I believe, on his way to 38. And he has played more minutes than anybody in NBA history. So instead of being like, ‘Hey, you are the type of person that should be load managed, you are the type of individual that after all that you have done, to that game, all that you have done on the court. You are supposed to take a day or two off.'”
At 2-9 on the season, the Lakers are tied for the worst start to a season through 11 games in franchise history. In each of the previous three years where the Lakers began their campaign at 2-9, they finished well below .500, missing playoff contention.
Previous Lakers all-time worst starts through 11 games, per ESPN’s broadcast:
2015-16: finished 17-65, 14th seed in Western Conference.
2014-15: finished 21-61, 14th seed in the west.
1957-58: finished 19-53, 4th seed in the west (league only had eight teams total).
With the season not even a quarter of the way in, Jefferson is on the verge of calling it a year for the Lakers.
“Their season is, what? All but — they’re probably about 10 games away from their season, most likely being over,” Jefferson said. “And I say that respectfully because they’re gonna be so far down in a hole, that to get out of that hole with the team that they’re playing, is gonna be tough.”
With James doubtful for an instant return, the Lakers will next face off against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Tipoff from Crypto.com Arena is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET.