The Los Angeles Lakers entered this season with high expectations, and with the NBA on hold indefinitely, some bittersweet thoughts are entering the minds of some of their players.
"This would have been our best chance to win," reserve forward Jared Dudley told The Athletic's Michael Lee. "Even if you go into the future. The optics and everything was set up. We're going to have home court and we don't know how it would've been. Milwaukee might lose a few more games. We might have caught them. Probably most likely not, but you just don't know."
The Lakers were atop the Western Conference with a 49-14 record when play was suspended March 11 - primed to snap the franchise's seven-year playoff drought, led by two All-Stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Dudley added that the Lakers had bonded as teammates, thanks in part to other outside forces such as the shocking death of Kobe Bryant in January and the team's experience in China during the Daryl Morey Twitter controversy last fall.
"The chemistry was just phenomenal," Dudley said. "The group chats. There were literally no beefs, no cliques. We all hung out together. Once you hang out, it’s easier for LeBron to get on Dwight (Howard) or JaVale (McGee). It’s easier for AD to get on Danny Green or Danny Green to get on me, because we're all so cool."
Dudley said last week that he didn't think the league would decide on canceling the season or resuming it until June 1, but he now sounds more pessimistic.
"I'm someone who likes money but that should not be the main reason for us getting back right now," he said. "That's because you have people's health, from the virus, health from player safety in terms of injury. We don't have the proper stuff right now. Hopefully, we have a miracle and hopefully something changes in the next 60 days, but it's looking more bleak by the day."