NBA

Scottie Pippen Says the Lakers Still Can’t Close Games

With 18,940 points in his career, Scottie Pippen is a basketball legend, playing in 12 seasons for the Chicago Bulls. Now retired, the six-time NBA title holder was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Pippen recently sat down with ESPN’s The Jump to discuss the Clippers and Lakers’ performances this season.

Scottie Pippen talks with The Jump

The Lakers currently lead the Western Conference with a 41-12 record. As analysts consider whether the team has what it takes to make it to June, Pippen offered his opinion.

He expressed the need for the Lakers to find a new player who can close games since LeBron James isn’t getting the job done. He discussed how James is not known for his ability to close. And he no longer has the benefit of playing alongside great closers like Dwyane Wade or Kyrie.

Pippen even discussed the need for the Lakers to find a “closure guy that can make big shots, take big shots, and then will to go to the free-throw line and make those shots.” This is a strong stance to take against King James.

The Clippers’ advantage

Pippen feels the Clippers have an advantage over the Lakers right now because of players like Lou Williams, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. All three of them take big shots and can close the game. He says of LeBron and Anthony Davis that “they’re not guys that are known to close games.”

The Clippers went into the 2019-20 season as the top contenders for the title. Their coaching team combined with star players has allowed them to achieve a 37-18 season record thus far. This puts them in third place in the Western Conference, with the Lakers holding strong as the favorite for the title.

So, despite Pippen’s reasoning of a need for a closer, it seems like the Lakers are doing just fine with the current roster.

The Lakers’ next move

As the trade deadline approached, everyone waited to see what the Lakers’ next move would be. With 21 wins on the road, fans wondered whether they should mess with the roster at all. Rumors surfaced about trading Alex Caruso for MVP Derrick Rose of the Detroit Pistons.

Rose would be the piece the Lakers need to close games, but his price seemed too high. LA turned down a deal with the Pistons because the trade offer did not include Kyle Kuzma. In the end, the Lakers held firm and decided not to make a move at all, opting to wait for the buyout market.

After the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ management decided to keep things intact and not change the chemistry of the team. Bryant’s death was such a huge loss to the team, it seemed like changing things up at this point just didn’t seem right.

How LeBron James feels about the Lakers getting a new player

James recently talked with the LA Times about a roster upgrade. Here’s what he said: “We have enough right now. But it’s not about competing and worrying about June, it’s about worrying about January.” It seems like the NBA superstar is quite content with what the Lakers have.

He continued, “We’re a really good team but we’re not a great team yet and we shouldn’t be. We’ve just now been put together in September and from September to now we’re a better team. And if we continue this trend, then we’ll put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship and have a chance. And in this league and in sports in general, all you want is a chance.” 

We’ll see if James’ optimism holds up in the playoffs. Perhaps he’ll have to answer to Pippen.

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