NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal thinks the Los Angeles Lakers will make the playoffs despite having a struggling season. The Lakers, who made a splash in free agency when they traded several valuable assets to bring Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles, entered the season as one of the top favorites for the NBA title.
Four months later, the Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot and are not a top contender for the NBA title anymore. The Lakers sit on the ninth spot of the Western Conference standings with a 26-31 record. "They definitely will make the playoffs," O'Neal told TMZ Sports, adding there's always pressure within the Lakers organization to be the best.
"This was one of the hardest franchises I ever had to play for."
O'Neal won three titles with the Lakers
"I remember when I came here, Jerry West said, 'Look, I know you do movies, I know you do rap albums and all that,' But, he made me look up [in the rafters] and I seen Wilt [Chamberlain] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and he said, 'At the end of this, you're either going to be a bust or you're going to be a legend.'
So, those guys have to decide how they want to be remembered," O'Neal added. The Lakers didn't make any moves at the trade deadline. "It's a new day," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "I think our group had great energy today.
Both in a team film session and in practice. I think there's just a natural reset energy to our group, knowing that the trade deadline has passed. This is the group that we put together to start the year. This is a group we believe in."
The Lakers are confident they can win with the current group of guys. "I think with that deadline passing and having a refreshed mindset today, our group had really good energy about going out and trying to win a game [Saturday] and understanding and believing in what we can do this year," Vogel said.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also suggested he was comfortable with keeping the current group of players. "Throughout this process we had different things we looked at and like I've done in the past, had conversations with LeBron and Anthony about it and I would say there's alignment here," Pelinka told reporters on a videoconference a couple of hours after the deadline passed Thursday. "And that's all that matters."