I saw this clip yesterday and it got me thinking. I've seen people talk about how one of the biggest losers of this whole thing if the season is ultimately cancelled is the Lakers, and while that brings a smile to my face I'm not so sure it's the truth. Yeah, LeBron is getting older but he's also whooped Father Time's ass for years and technically wouldn't have all those basketball miles on his legs once things started back up. It might pain me to say this, but this guy looks like someone that is still able to get it done at a high level
But if we were to talk about title windows, there are a whole bunch of teams that are in the same if not worse spot than the Lakers. A bunch of teams are in win now mode, made moves this trade deadline to go for it, and in my opinion would see their window close just as much as the Lakers if things don't come back if you apply the same reasoning Jalen is doing in that clip. Remember, there's a team out in GS that is going to be coming back 100% healthy while also adding a high lottery pick. That's why this season was so important for a whole bunch of teams because once they are back in action everyone's window is a little more closed. But there are levels to it. For example
The Kinda Screwed Group
This is a group of teams that you wouldn't say their window completely closes, but it's a valuable lost season given how they are constructed.
When the Sixers maxed out Tobias Harris and Al Horford this summer it was clear that they were no longer in this rebuilding phase, but were now entering the win now phase. No more Process. Then at the trade deadline they made moves to add shooters that they hoped would solve their spacing issues. Sixers fans quickly learned that maybe giving Al Horford all that money just to get him out of Boston and to potentially have for a matchup with MIL probably wasn't the best idea. You could argue that at age 33, this is the best version of Horford that they're going to get. As we know they massively underachieved this season, were a 6 seed when things went on pause, but both the team and their fans were holding out hope that during a playoff series they would have enough talent to make up for it. Losing this postseason and the entire reason you signed Al Horford in the first place certainly would be a hit.
The Rockets went all the fuck in on their new style of play. Their coach is on a 1 year prove it deal. This was the one season they didn't have to deal with their Boogey Man aka the Golden State Warriors. Say what you want about their superstars, but they are one of the deadliest backcourt duos in the entire league. A wasted season this year would mean they would now be relying on two guys who will be in their age 31 seasons next year. The good news is their roster is for the most part locked in for next season, but what if D'Antoni is gone and the next coach doesn't want to play this style? This trade deadline the Rockets went all in to try and snag that elusive title with a certain style, and if they don't get that chance this year their window definitely takes a hit.
The Celts are in a weird spot because their building blocks are young as hell, but that doesn't mean their contending window doesn't take a hit if there were no playoffs this year. For example Kemba isn't getting any younger and his whole knee issue is cause for concern. How will that age? Then there's Gordon Hayward. To me he's the X factor in whatever you think the Celts could do. Chances are he opts into his player option for $34M for next year which is great, but this was their chance to get a good look at a 100% healthy Hayward in the postseason to help them decide what to do about his future. Let's say he ultimately isn't part of a group that can get them over the hump but because there's no playoffs to even really be sure, they give him an extension this summer instead of using that money elsewhere. They could be impacting their window without even knowing it.
The Cause For Concern Group
This is a group of teams that are going to feel it the most when talking about a potential title window hit for a variety of reasons.
Any season this close to Giannis' potential free agency that you lose, especially when you are one of the favorites to win the whole thing, is a big deal. There's a real possibility that Giannis has to make a decision on his next contract while having zero Finals appearances with the Bucks. Let's face it, you take Giannis off that team they are not a title favorite. While I do think it's a long shot that he turns down supermax money, if we're talking about teams who is going to see their title window impacted by a lost season, you can't leave the Bucks out.
Los Angeles Lakers
When LeBron went out West it was basically a 3 year plan. Year 1 was a wash, he got hurt and they missed the playoffs. Now there's this season where he's been fantastic and the Lakers have been arguably the best team in the league. A lost season for them would absolutely hurt. Chances are LeBron is just as lethal next season and Anthony Davis will only be 27 so I'm pretty sure he'll be fine, but their biggest challenger will be back in the mix next year with a much more complete roster. Going in on AD, the deadline deals they made, it was pretty damn clear this was the year they were truly going for it. Would they bring back a 31 year old Morris, 34 year old Dwight, and 28 year of Dion Waiters to give this another shot? You have to think KCP/Avery Bradley/McGee/Rondo are all going to opt into their player options so it's not as if the Lakers are going to have a ton of space to work with this summer.
Los Angeles Clippers
For all the hooplah there is about the Lakers and LeBron's window closing, not enough is being talked about the other LA team. Their window is in a much tougher spot with a lost season and it's due to a combination of factors. First and foremost, you need to factor in the contract situations of their two best players. Both Kawhi and Paul George have player options after next season. If there's no postseason this year and they never get a chance to compete for a title, then they don't make it next year with GS in the mix, who the hell knows if they both opt in. That pretty much closes their window completely and honestly bones the franchise big time given what they gave up to bring those two in. Then you have to also factor in the contract of Montrezl Harrell who is a free agent after this summer and wants to get paid. He's most likely out. Pat Beverley and Lou Williams will be 32 and 33 respectively next year. Who knows what they do with Mook or Reggie Jackson, two guys they brought in at the deadline for additional scoring depth. If you ask me, the Clippers might have the MOST to lose if there isn't a postseason this year.
If I had to rank all these teams and the impact of a lost season would have on their title window it would probably look something like this
With some of the league's biggest franchises and markets being impacted by this whole thing, I think that's why the NBA is so determined to figure something out. So what say you, who has the most to lose if the season is just flat out cancelled and we pick things back up next season?