After Sunday's 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Lakers' star LeBron James let out some frustration in a post-game interview.
It might have been in part due to the back-to-back losses his team has taken since his highly anticipated return after enduring an ankle injury about six weeks ago, but in doing so he took a jab at the NBA.
The NBA's play-in tournament includes teams with the seventh through 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference and take place May 18-21. The tournament comes after a 72-game season of which the Los Angeles Lakers have already played 64 games and currently sit at No. 6 in the Western Conference, but with the same 36-28 record as the No. 7 Portland Trail Blazers.
A version of the play-in tournament was used prior to the 2020 NBA Playoffs in the bubble, but the NBA board of governors unanimously approved a proposal for the full play-in tournament this year.
James isn't the first to express his opinions about the addition. Both Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban and star Luka Doncic have voiced their concerns about new playoff format.
"In hindsight, this approach was an enormous mistake," Cuban told ESPN. "I get why the NBA is doing it... But if we are going to be creative because of COVID, we should go straight up 1-20 and let the bottom four play in."
"The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule. Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top 6 since the consequences, as Luka said, are enormous. So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days."
James' thoughts on the playoff format is warranted as the reigning NBA Champions sit on the edge of possibly participating those extra games before competing in the playoffs to defend the title.
The Lakers have certainly dug themselves a hole. While both James and Anthony Davis were on the injured reserve list for several weeks, the Lakers racked up 19 losses.
Although James returned to play on Friday against the Sacramento Kings, he missed the ending of Sunday's game against the Raptors admitting, "I'm not 100% or close to 100%."
On Monday, NBA expert Shams Charania also reported that James is expected to miss the Lakers' upcoming game.
With or without the King, the Lakers will have to pull themselves out of the hole they created to avoid the new play-in tournament all together.