The LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers start their final road trip of the 2018-19 NBA season on Sunday against the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans.
Both teams have little left to play for after being eliminated from the playoffs. Of course, they became intertwined in rumors leading up to the NBA trade deadline.
Davis’s agent Rich Paul, who also represents James, tried to engineer a trade to land Davis on the Lakers. Despite a massive offer from the Lakers for their superstar, the Pelicans declined.
The Lakers reportedly believe that New Orleans then leaked the trade offer in order to erode trust within the team’s locker room. The swirling rumors reportedly did just that.
The bigger factor in the Lakers’ downfall from playoff contention, though, is injuries. Three key members of the team’s young core have all been shut down for the remainder of the season.
Lonzo Ball could not recover from an ankle injury suffered in Houston on Jan. 19. The Lakers now think that the young point guard’s ankle problems stem from his Big Baller Brand shoes. Ball has hinted on social media recently that he is leaving the brand his father created.
Brandon Ingram was in the midst of a breakout stretch when it was discovered that his right shoulder soreness was due to a major blood clot. Ingram underwent a successful thoracic outlet surgery on March 16 to remove the clot and is expected to be ready by the start of next season.
Josh Hart, meanwhile, underwent an ultrasonic debridement procedure on Thursday to treat tendinitis in his right knee. Hart had struggled on the court while trying to play through the tendinitis.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, seem to be in a more awkward position. This is almost guaranteed to be one of Davis’ final games in New Orleans. The Pelicans will field bids from numerous teams this summer hoping to help them fulfill their superstar’s trade demand. However, they will reportedly still refuse to deal with the Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-42) vs. New Orelans Pelicans (32-45)
3:00 P.M. PT, Mar. 31, 2019
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Lance Stephenson
PF: Moritz Wagner
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Alex Caruso, Jonathan Williams, Scott Machado
Projected Pelicans Starting Lineup:
PG: Elfrid Payton
SG: Ian Clark
SF: Kenrich Williams
PF: Julius Randle
C: Jahlil Okafor
Key Reserves: Stanley Johnson, Cheick Diallo, Christian Wood