Earlier this season, with critics calling for Luke Walton's job, here's what Magic Johnson said to the media:
"He is going to finish the season, unless something drastic happens, which it won't.''
He believed these words back then, and it wasn't long before the Lakers started turning their season around. At their peak, they were top 4 in the West. Following a LeBron James groin injury, however, that "drastic" moment Magic was so sure wouldn't happen may have finally arrived.
In the wake of LeBron's absence, the Lakers are 3-7 in their games without him, proving once again how much value he brings to the club. But their latest loss to the Cavs on Sunday night might be their lowest point of the entire season so far. Despite 20+ point outages from Kuzma and Ingram, the Lakers were unable to beat the NBA's worst team at home. It was a loss they'll be sure to remember for some time, and their faces immediately following the defeat showed a very somber ball club.
Meanwhile, in the tunnel, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka was seen walking with his head down, looking like a man who has seen enough.
It's hard to say for certain what comes next for the Lakers. With every loss, not only do their playoff chances dwindle, but the value of their young core also diminishes as they keep proving, again and again, that they do not yet have what it takes to lead a team to success.
It seems clear now that change is inevitable, though. Whether it's Luke Walton, one of the young guys, or a new addition, something about the look of this Lakers squad just reeks of desperation. Even when LeBron comes back, how much confidence is there in the young core surrounding him? I mean, if the Lakers can't even beat the Cavs without LeBron, can they really come close to winning a Championship with him?
It's a harsh reality, but it's one we're being forced to face as the Lakers continue their downward spiral.