Zion Williamson of Duke has been out since injuring himself during the first minute of the Feb. 20 game against North Carolina. He was immediately diagnosed as “day to day” with a Grade 1 knee strain. Two weeks have passed and the likely top pick in this summer’s NBA draft still has not returned. I spoke in these pages last week about what his options are since he clearly is not returning to Durham next season.
Williamson missed his fourth game Tuesday night. It would have been his final game at Cameron Indoor. I wonder if he was not on the court taking a curtain call might mean something. I guess it’s understandable that Duke wouldn’t risk anything in the interest of a regular season ACC title. Barring a major collapse down the stretch, the Blue Devils will be a number-one seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And with a healthy Williamson, this is the team to beat. But the longer he sits, the question lingers. Is Williamson healthy? Or has he chosen to shut it down as to avoid further injury?
The longer Williamson is out, the more questions. Next up is a rematch at North Carolina. If he’s not on the court for that one, it may be time for Duke fans to truly worry.
Is It Time To Stick A Fork In The Lakers?
Are the Los Angeles Lakers truly done? They did have a pretty devastating weekend. They blew a close game late against the Milwaukee Bucks and then lost another game to the lowly Phoenix Suns.
I wrote at the All Star break that it would be difficult for the Lakers and LeBron James to make the NBA playoffs as the eighth seed in the West. They were 28-29 back then (3 ½ games out of the playoffs) with 25 games remaining. As I write this, Los Angeles is 30-34. They are in 11th place in the West, 5 ½ games behind the 8th place San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers have 18 games left to surpass three teams to capture the eighth and final playoff spot in the West or LeBron James will be out of the playoffs for the first time since his second year in the Association.
Walton Will Take The Fall
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton isn’t all to blame for the Lakers’ collapse. But history, especially history when LeBron James is involved, tells us that he will be the scapegoat. There have been multiple occasions in the past when James has questioned his coaches. And this leads to a firing. It will be no different this time around with the Lakers. I am pretty sure you will see one of the following as the coach of the 2019-20 Lakers.
Conventional wisdom tells us that it will be Ty Lue. When Lue replaced David Blatt in Cleveland, the Cavs won the title later that season. He has familiarity with the LeBron media circus. You got the impression that it did not bother him, but he did have health issues during the latter stages of his tenure. And remember, Lue played for the Lakers in his first three seasons in the NBA, from 1998-2001.
There have been a number of reports about Jason Kidd being the next coach of the Lakers. I don’t see it. He last coached at Milwaukee and the Bucks improved dramatically after Kidd was replaced.
Mark Jackson would be a good hire. He had a 121-109 record in three years as coach of the Golden State Warriors, including 51-31 in his final season. Jackson was not given a chance to finish what he started with the Warriors. Brian Shaw is a possibility. He has been on the Lakers’ coaching staff as associate head coach for the past three seasons. His best chance to get the job would probably have been with a midseason firing of Walton followed by a Lakers run. But Walton is still there and it looks like there will not be a run. One name that keeps coming up, but it would be a shock if it happened, is Mike Krzyzewski. He has a solid relationship with LeBron from their time together at the Olympics. I guess he could follow his three star freshmen out of Duke and into the NBA. But can you really see Coach K coaching anywhere else but at Duke?
Those are some of Magic Johnson and LeBron’s possible options. It will likely be Luke. Right LeBron?