ESPN’s Jay Williams: Lakers Should “Shut Down” LeBron James, Keep Him Healthy For Playoffs [VIDEO]
ESPN analyst Jay Williams on Monday said what everyone else is thinking.
After the Lakers fell to 30-34 following a 113-105 loss to the Clippers, most fans saw that the playoffs were out of sight. The team had lost five out of its last six games in a tough Western Conference. Yet for some reason, no one wanted to point out that the team was running a 34-year-old with 45,939 regular-season minutes into the ground without a reason. On Monday, the former college and NBA star said he thinks that the Lakers should “shut down” Lebron James for the final stretch of the season.
“Magic Johnson needs to shut LeBron James down,” Williams said. “He needs to take it away from LeBron because LeBron’s pride will want him to play. LeBron is the ultimate competitor, and he will want to compete for an eight spot. But if you’re thinking about long-term return on investment for LeBron James, who is 34 years old, you have to be able to compartmentalize that if you’re Magic Johnson, and say, ‘OK, LeBron, sit down, I don’t need you to get injured … sit down, get healthy.'”
While the move makes all the sense in the world, letting James recover from a nagging groin injury and increasing the odds that their team gets a higher draft pick, it would undoubtedly be shunned by the NBA. Just look at the New Orleans Pelicans, who were told they couldn’t sit Anthony Davis for the remainder of the season after he requested a trade. If the Pelicans couldn’t sit AD for a good reason, how could the Lakers rest Lebron? But the Lakers could potentially play James in limited minutes and get their young core so much more experience.
“Hey, let’s get these younger assets back involved, let them play without LeBron and showcase themselves, so you can create more assets,” Williams continued. “Also, hey, Luke Walton, you’re going to be the next coach of UCLA, let’s start looking forward to who our next head coach is going to be and start really paying attention to who we’re going to trade for in the offseason.
“ESPN’s BPI Index gives them a 1.1 percent chance to make the playoffs. Why are you fighting for that? Let it go. Focus on next year,” he added.