Manx: Well, let’s talk about the most disappointing teams this season.
We have jazz, we spend more time trying to tell All is well! We swear! Actually fixing their problems. We got the Knicks, and I made it back to the lottery. Hawks, they failed to match their hype. Swans, running through another season without Zion. Blazers, collapse to the end without Dame Lillard. Kings, still Kangzing. And yes – we have the Lakers, and we’ve failed even to make Play in the tournament.
So who do you have?
Beck: Look, I know everyone feels like screwing up because of the Lakers’ meltdown, and I got that. We’re not used to seeing LeBron James crash and burn amazingly. But I go with the Nets as the most disappointing team this season.
They started with the vaunted Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, and ended with the vaunted Big 3 of Durant, Irving and Ben Simmons – except for Irving playing only 29 games, Harden forced a deal and Simmons didn’t score a single after the moment. Add Durant’s absences due to injury, and you’ll have a favorite pre-season title chosen instead for the course of play.
what you say?
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Manx: There may be no greater disappointment than a single season of the 21-22 Lakers. How is that? A team led by James, still very close to the peak of its power, by the way, with Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, is not among the top 10 teams in the Western Conference. For me this is not even debatable. Combined with James’ brilliance, this has been a season where everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong.
Beck: There’s no denying that the Lakers were an epic disaster that couldn’t be mitigated. Given the expectations, this could be the most humiliating season in franchise history. But put aside the pre-season odds for a moment. Everyone you and I spoke to last summer — every scout, coach, and executive team — thought the Westbrook trade was a huge mistake, and that the Lakers would struggle to integrate it with James and A.D. Did anyone anticipate a breakdown this dramatic? No, but just about everyone outside the Lakers front desk predicted that the Lakers wouldn’t make it through with the new Big Three.
There were no such reservations about the Big 3 in the Nets. The Durant-Irving-Harden trilogy was dominant in their short time together last season. They were supposed to be the greatest offensive unit ever assembled. But Irving’s vaccine refusal and ineligibility for home matches hampered this team from day one – and ultimately sparked Harden’s commercial demand.
Simmons may finally be a perfect fit alongside Durant and Irving. But his debut of the season in the first round of playoffs (as is now rumored) looks less than ideal. I’m not sure they even made it out of the first round.
Manx: But look – curling season isn’t like that on. They’re not completely behind in the first round, but with a play-off win over Cleveland, they’ll have an injured Boston team that will lose defense anchor Robert Williams. The Celtics are going to be, rightly, the favourite, but you’re not giving the Nets any chance of winning? And if the Nets win, will at least part of this season be compensated for? Meanwhile, the Lakers conduct bizarre exit interviews where they take no accountability (Westbrook) and put forth the hilarious narrative that injuries and lineup inconsistencies are the reason this team (Davis) fails. Hey, LM: I was 11-10 with you, you’re James and Westbrook in the lineup. Bulls mid-nineties, they were not.
Beck: Fida? always possible. the net should Win the play match (or the next match if they lose on Tuesday) and make the playoffs. But they enter as a low seed, with no home ground advantage, and any path to the Finals could include a winning streak against the Celtics, Bucks and Sixers, in some order. This is a brutal road. And remember: the window was leaked The favorites to win it all when this season started. Anything short of finals is a huge disappointment from this point of view. On the plus side, the Nets should start next season in full health (and qualify) from the Big 3 from Durant, Irving and Simmons. I’d take that up against the horrific Lakers, for sure.
Manx: Awful – that’s one word for it. Scary, terrifying, these are others. The search for training will be difficult – only you He knew Mark Jackson will be in the mix – and free agency will be a nightmare. The Lakers will have limited flexibility and may have to attach an asset to Westbrook just to cancel his contract. Half of the roster will likely be lower-paid players, with one cap exception signed that will be hailed as the missing piece. Something tells me we’ll be back here in the fall, and we’re wondering (again) if Kendrick Noone could be a squad maker on this team. The Lakers merry-go-round never stops.
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