LeBron James sitting should scare Phoenix Suns fans

LeBron James, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre, Phoenix Suns(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
LeBron James, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre, Phoenix Suns(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

It was announced on March 30, that LeBron James would sit for the final six games of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season. This should scare Phoenix Suns fans.

Remember when LeBron James (who believes himself to be better than Michael Jordan) touted his lack of taking “rest” days after the 2017-18 season when he played in all 82 games for the first time in his career, as a 33-year-old?

Now that he and the Los Angeles Lakers medical staff has decided that he will miss the final six games of the 2018-19 regular season (with no playoffs on his horizon for the first time in forever), James will finish the season missing a total of 27 games, the most in his illustrious career.

LeBron is probably a little beaten up, that groin injury in particular is something that he worries about, but while he has missed three of the Lakers’ last eight games, there is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have played in at least half of the final six, instead opting to enter the offseason early while his young teammates carry the load across the final stretch.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Honestly, whatever.

While I could easily write a very long post decrying LeBron’s hypocrisy coupled with my belief that as entertainers professional athletes should play whenever it is physically possible (he played 31:58 on the eve of his decision to rest in a 14 point victory over the Charlotte Hornets), I will instead sit back and happily revel in the fact that the vaunted Lakers and indomitable James have been eliminated from the playoffs – a sight I could never get sick of seeing.

That said, his resting will likely lead to more losses (the Lakers have lost the last five games James has missed and are 6-15 on the year without him), potentially leading to a slightly higher Draft Lottery percentage, a few extra balls in the hopper, and a better than zero chance of winning the whole thing.

If you believe that the NBA Draft Lottery is fixed on any level like I do, then you should be just as worried as I am that the NBA will find a way to grant the Lakers the number one overall pick in 2019, leaping a number of teams to do so.

For all the bluster that Zion Williamson will go to the New York Knicks, that franchise has been in shambles for most fan’s entire lives, and a few more years of such losing will not hurt the league (or the Knicks’) brand in any discernible way.

But LeBron James is the league’s most noticeable figure, their most attractive superstar, and the Los Angeles Lakers, their most marketable franchise.

The Lakers are now in season six without a playoff appearance, a franchise-record, and LeBron James will be 35 midway through next season.

Zion has been compared to LeBron in skill, and pairing those two with a potential trade or free agency-acquired superstar (presuming James is able to pull off such an acquisition), those three would be a dominant force in the league next season and as James declines over the next 2-3 seasons, Zion will emerge as his successor, and the Lakers will be set up as a championship-contending franchise once more.

If you do not think that Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA would not love to see this happen, especially while Golden State is still riding high finally creating the four-times a year intense rivalry plus the Western Conference Finals matchup everyone had expected coming into this year, you’re fooling yourself.

Hence why Phoenix Suns fans should be worried.

Suns fans suffered through another  forgettable season brought on by the abomination of a 2018-19 roster.

Owning the best odds in the Draft Lottery is the only consolation prize worthy of sitting through the mangled mess that is 2018-19, with the hopes that just one more time the Phoenix Suns can finish with the top pick in the draft (or at least top-two), and land a stud of a college player who will help finally guide Phoenix to the playoffs for many years to come.

Obviously Zion WIlliamson and R.J. Barrett is every fan’s dream selections, and while losing out on possibly selecting one of those two to teams in similar record predicaments as Phoenix would suck, it would at least be somewhat palatable

But losing out instead to at least one team who is much farther down in the lottery odds and thus already that much closer to the playoffs at this moment than Phoenix is, would be devastating.

Especially if that team to jump them would be the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Phoenix Suns have all but locked up the top odds in the Lottery (52.1% in the top-four and 14.0% winning the number one pick – their Magic Number is 3; a combination of Suns losses and Chicago Bulls wins), and the Lakers are sitting with the 10th best odds (13.9% finishing in the top-four and a 3.0% chance at winning the whole thing).

But while L.A. is unlikely to move up any farther as the New Orleans Pelicans have the ninth best odds and are 2.5 games ahead of L.A. in the reverse standings, the Lakers are just .5 games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves and 1.5 games ahead of Charlotte.

Winning anymore from this point forward will only cause them to slip back, and should both Minnesota and Charlotte jump ahead of the Lakers, L.A. would see their odds drop to 7.1% and 1.5%, respectively.

The Suns did it last season by sitting Devin Booker, there is no reason to believe that the Lakers aren’t doing it now.

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Phoenix Suns fans are used to losing and should take every conspiracy theory against them as  legitimate and a distinct possibility.

By the Lakers just missing the playoffs and having even the slightest modicum of hope to win the Lottery is enough to worry me. But benching LeBron James, for even the final six games, is evidence that the Lakers are thinking the exact same thing.