FRANK: LeBron James, Lakers hit new low in loss to the lowly Hawks

LeBron James ahead of a game vs the Hawks
Feb 12, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) before playing against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Feb 12, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) before playing against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It was less than a week ago that we figured the Los Angeles Lakers were bound to turn this entire ship around.

With trade rumors surrounding pretty much the entire team’s roster and drama engulfing the organization, Los Angeles went into Boston and took out the mighty Celtics in stunning fashion.

Fast forward a couple games, and things have hit rock bottom for Luke Walton’s squad following an humiliating 117-113 loss to the lowly Hawks in Atlanta Tuesday night.

The game started out with Atlanta hitting a franchise-record 10 three-pointers in the first quarter. That was a combination of hot shooting from the Hawks and some really bad defense by the Lakers (watch here).

As the game progressed, fans at State Farm Arena took to trolling LeBron James with “Kobe’s better” chants. Ultimately, James finished the game with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists in another stellar individual performance.

Though, the backdrop for James was much more humiliating than what his stat sheet might have read.

This loss comes two days after the Lakers were blown out by Philadelphia, 143-120. It also comes a mere week after Los Angeles fell to the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers by 42 points.

So what exactly has gone wrong? Here’s a few factors leading the Lakers to irrelevance prior to the All-Star Break.

Luke Walton might have lost his team: Despite backing of the Lakers’ brass, Walton is clearly on the hot seat.

  • Losses to the Hawks and Pacers during this east coast road trip is not going to help Walton’s standing as the All-Star Break approaches.
  • If there is any time for the Lakers to make a coaching move, it’s the eight days off between Tuesday’s game against Atlanta and their next outing at home against Houston.

The discord is real: Sure Magic Johnson tried to smooth things over after the trade deadline, but what good did that do?

  • Pretty much everyone on the Lakers’ roster outside of LeBron James was made available ahead of last week’s NBA trade deadline.
  • It was the most public of trade conversations with the likes of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram all being bandied about.
  • Equally as important, veterans LeBron helped bring in such as Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and the recently-traded Michael Beasley were also talked about.
  • It would be ignorant to believe that this has not played a role in the Lakers’ recent swoon.

LeBron has his eye on the future: For King James, it’s not about the 2018-19 season.

  • James pretty much made this clear after he signed with the Lakers this past summer. He knows that the Golden State Warriors remain heads and shoulders ahead of his Lakers.
  • The star’s comments surrounding Anthony Davis made it clear that he has his eye on free agency and next season.
  • Fellow Lakers players are merely pawns in James’ long-term game. It might sound rough. But it’s the truth. Everyone knows James is looking to bring in more star power.

The 2018-19 season is all but lost: There’s really no coming back from what we’ve seen the past week-plus.

  • That’s the cold hard reality of the situation. Los Angeles heads into the All-Star Break at under .500 and without any real reinforcements to speak of. No, Carmelo Anthony doesn’t count.
  • We’re not even highly intrigued to see how these youngsters play next to LeBron. As has been made clear over the pat two weeks, they likely don’t have a future with the Lakers.

In the end, this is all part of James’ long-term plan. No one envisioned it to be as ugly as we’ve seen recently. But it was never going to be pretty.

Let’s just hope for the sake of Lakers fans, drama doesn’t continue to surround this team as a lost season comes to a conclusion.