The Los Angeles Lakers, like all of last season’s conference finalists, fell short this time around in the playoffs and now face an offseason full of questions once again.
The NBA’s schedule did the Lakers no favors as they were forced back into action only 71 days after winning the championship in the Orlando bubble. Although Los Angeles started the 2020-21 season strong, they ultimately could not weather through the numerous injuries the roster sustained and eventually were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round.
There has been plenty of criticism thrown the league’s way for their insistence on playing a 72-game schedule in order to make up for lost revenue, but this was a plan that was agreed upon between them and the NBAPA. However, according to Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group, some Lakers players believed there were no other choices except to accept the league’s proposal:
Among the Lakers, the feeling, according to a person familiar with their thinking at the time, was that the players didn’t believe they had many other realistic options, so they ultimately voted to go with the 72-game schedule played through July.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was a situation that no one could have predicted and while Adam Silver was correct to put the 2019-20 season on hold, the financial ramifications forced his hand when it came to planning out the 2020-21 season. Both the league and the players knew that basketball-related income would take a hit and while it made sense to try and recoup their losses, they are seeing the negative effects it is having on players.
There have been reports about tying the shortened schedule to certain injuries occurring more frequently this season and for players like Markief Morris, who felt the stress of playing during the pandemic, it only reinforces the fact that maybe this was not the best course of action. Fortunately, the NBA will be returning to its normal annual schedule for the 2021-22 season and that should give both sides a sign of relief.
First round elimination a blessing in disguise for Lakers
Although the Lakers would have preferred to still be playing in the postseason, their early exit may actually benefit them in the long run as they can take full advantage of an extended offseason. Health is always going to be L.A.’s priority in any season, so having more time off will go a long way in helping them turn things around next year.
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