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Newsletter: Lakers newsletter: After LeBron and AD, who do you most trust in playoffs?

Veteran guard Avery Bradley has played well this season. After LeBron James and Anthony Davis, is he the Laker you trust most? Kyle Kuzma? Let us know.
(Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

Hi, this is Tania Ganguli, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, here with your Lakers newsletter.

In our last newsletter, I asked readers to share stories of personal memories related to the Lakers, or moments that were special to them for personal reasons. I’ll include a couple of them later in this newsletter.

Today, I’ll throw out a different question: Outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which Lakers player will you trust the most in the playoffs?

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We still don’t know when life can resume as normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means we don’t know when the regular season will restart, or what the process to resume will look like once it does. To that end, James has some ideas.

While appearing on a podcast called “Road Trippin’” that was broadcast Thursday with former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, and Spectrum SportsNet studio host Allie Clifton, James said he thought a one- to two-week training camp would be the first step, followed by a five- to 10-game finish to the regular season in order to allow players to get back into the rhythm they’d need to be ready for the playoffs.

Just how would that handful of games look?

The group suggested perhaps having the eighth- through 11th-place teams play for the final playoff spot in the west. That involves four teams who are within 3 1/2 games of one another — the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings.

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The winner would face the Lakers, who have a sizable lead atop the West over the second-place Clippers.

That’s a plan that might work in the West, but it does discount some battles for positioning that were heating up as the season concluded. The same system likely wouldn’t work in the East. The Orlando Magic have a five-game lead over the Washington Wizards, who were unlikely to catch them.

They were having some fun trying to figure it all out, but their banter highlighted the difficulty the NBA will have in figuring out a fair system should they not be able to play out the rest of the regular season and a full playoff slate.

James laid low for about a week after the NBA suspended operations but has since been fairly visible. He did an Instagram Live broadcast from his home last week. He shared his foundation’s efforts to help students at the I Promise School by delivering their families taco dinners on Tuesday (in all 340 families were served meals this time). Then on Wednesday he participated in recording of the “Road Trippin’” podcast from his wine cellar at home.

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This hiatus is unlike anything he’s ever experienced and it’ll be interesting to see how he navigates that through his favorite social media outlets.

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Lakers memories

Thanks to those who submitted responses. Here are a couple of them.

From Paul in Century City:

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Hi Tania: As a long-time Laker fan, I appreciate your newsletter.

When you asked your readers for their favorite Laker moment, I immediately flashed back to a Laker game I was attending at the Forum (I am one of your more senior readers). It was in the ‘60s, I was in my 20s and the PA announcer came on to announce that President Lyndon Johnson wasn’t going to seek another term as president. I immediately blurted out to my father-in-law, with much glee, that I wasn’t going to Vietnam (I did go on to serve in the military).

Lord only knows why that came back to me after all these years.

From Ed Arvizo in Albuquerque:

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Born in L.A. in 1954 I was lucky to have seen the Lakers in person at the Sports Arena and Forum many times. … Elgin Baylor was my favorite, I call him the original Dr J. I even mimicked his little head twitch when he was at the free-throw line. Later we moved to Anaheim and one year I was coaching my 2 boys when we had an opportunity to play before the start of a Clippers preseason game against the Vancouver Grizzlies. There I am coaching and I see Elgin (at the time the Clippers GM) come out of the locker room and start walking towards the court. Forget my boys and the team. I went over to Elgin, introduced myself and shook his hand. He was very kind, gracious and thanked me for saying he was my favorite player. He had a wonderful smile as he said, “You better go back with your team.”

I have so many more — it is wonderful to share with your kids and grandkids the excitement I had as a kid growing up in LA/OC. All my kids are Lakers and LA sport fans. When my wife wanted to name our daughter Lauryn, I never disagreed. After all her initials are LA!

Since we last spoke ...

  • Eight athletes who are members of teams that played at Staples Center in the two days before it shut down were diagnosed with COVID-19. Two Lakers, four Nets and two Ottawa Senators, who played the Los Angeles Kings in Staples Center’s final game until the hiatus. So what happened?
  • Karl-Anthony Towns said his mother was placed in a medically induced coma after developing COVID-19 symptoms. His father was also hospitalized with COVID-19 but ESPN reported he is doing well.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer bought the Forum, another step in the direction no longer being a Staples Center tenant.
  • Here’s more on what James discussed during the podcast that published Thursday morning, including how this break was affecting his body.
  • Stephen Curry did an Instagram Live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Barack Obama stopped by too. They hoped to impress upon a younger demographic the seriousness of this pandemic.

Until next time...

As always, pass along your thoughts to me at tania.ganguli@latimes.com, and please consider subscribing if you like our work!

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