Analyst Skip Bayless took a dig at LeBron James and the LA Lakers following Kawhi Leonard’s latest commercial with his sponsor, New Balance. Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season after undergoing surgery for his ACL injury. The Clippers missed the playoffs, losing back-to-back games in the play-in tournament.
Bayless questioned whether LeBron and the Lakers would qualify for the play-in tournament when Kawhi Leonard returns next season. Here’s what the veteran TV analyst tweeted:
“Uh-oh, LeBron: Kawhi has a new New Balance commercial. HE’S BACK. Your town is about to be his town again. You guys think you can even make the play-in tournament next year?”
The LA Lakers-LA Clippers’ cross-town rivalry was elevated to another level when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined the Clippers in 2019, while Anthony Davis teamed up with LeBron James. The Clippers were championship favorites that year, but the Lakers claimed the bragging rights.
Kawhi Leonard’s LA Clippers positioned better compared to LeBron James’ LA Lakers for next season
The LA Clippers will arguably have one of the strongest and deepest rosters in the NBA next season. The return of Kawhi Leonard, a healthy Paul George and a bevy of elite role players like Norman Powell, Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson, among others, bolsters their chances of winning their first NBA championship.
Despite Leonard missing the entire 2021-22 season and George featuring in 31 games, the Clippers finished with the seventh-best record in the league (42-40), nine games ahead of the 33-49 LA Lakers, who were comparatively healthy. Ty Lue’s men also swept their season series against LeBron James and Co.
Meanwhile, the Lakers will have to work on constructing their roster again after their dismal campaign. They broke their tried and tested championship-winning roster composition to acquire Russell Westbrook. With a lack of flexibility to surround the new big three featuring LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook, it will be an uphill task for them to add young and quality role players that can prove decisive in the absence of their stars.
The LA Lakers will have to bank on their superstars to help them achieve success next year. It hasn’t been a safe bet, though. James and Davis have been injury-prone over the last two years, while Westbrook underperformed in his first year with the team.
The Lakers hope their new head coach Darvin Ham can make an impact. However, the lack of resources and flexibility to string together a decent roster around their big three could make it difficult for the Purple and Gold to return to championship contention compared to Kawhi Leonard’s LA Clippers.