Analyst Skip Bayless took a dig at LeBron James and the LA Lakers following Kawhi Leonard's latest commercial with his sponsor, New Balance. Leonard missed the entire season after undergoing surgery for his ACL injury. The Clippers missed the playoffs, losing back-to-back games in the play-in tournament.
Bayless questioned whether LeBron and the Lakers would qualify for the play-in tournament when Kawhi Leonard returns next season. Here's what the veteran TV analyst tweeted:
"Uh-oh, LeBron: Kawhi has a new New Balance commercial. HE'S BACK. Your town is about to be his town again. You guys think you can even make the play-in tournament next year?"
The Lakers-Clippers' crosstown rivalry was elevated to another level when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined the Clippers in 2019, while Anthony Davis teamed up with LeBron James. The Clippers were championship favorites that year, but the Lakers claimed the bragging rights.
Kawhi Leonard's LA Clippers positioned better compared to LeBron James' LA Lakers for next season
The LA Clippers will arguably have one of the strongest and deepest rosters in the NBA next season. They have elite role players like Norman Powell, Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson, among others. Add to it the return of Kawhi Leonard and a healthy Paul George. It certainly bolsters their chances of winning their first NBA championship.
Despite Leonard missing the entire season and George playing in 31 games, the Clippers finished with the seventh-best record in the league (42-40). They were nine games ahead of the 33-49 LA Lakers, who were comparatively healthy. Ty Lue's men also swept their season series against LeBron James and company.
Meanwhile, the Lakers will have to work on constructing their roster again after their dismal campaign. They broke their tried and tested championship-winning roster composition to acquire Russell Westbrook.
With a lack of flexibility to surround the new big three, it will be an uphill task for them to add young and quality role players.
The LA Lakers will have to bank on their superstars to help them achieve success next year. It hasn't been a safe bet, though. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been injury-prone over the last two years, while Westbrook underperformed in his first year with the team.
The Lakers hope their new coach, Darvin Ham, can make an impact. However, the lack of resources and flexibility to string together a decent roster could make life difficult for the Purple and Gold. They will have to work harder to return to championship contention compared to Kawhi Leonard's LA Clippers.