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The Los Angeles Lakers’ road game vs. the New York Knicks will not be seen on national TV.
Because the Lakers are so ravaged by injury, ESPN decided to pull Los Angeles’ road game off the schedule on April 12 in favor of a more compelling matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks. Even if the Knicks are much improved under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, not having LeBron James or Anthony Davis available for the Lakers will hurt TV ratings.
Given that the 76ers have been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference this season, as well as the Mavericks having a marketable star out on the wing in Luka Doncic, it makes sense for ESPN to flex into this more interesting television option for Monday night. While this late nationally-televised early-window flex could upset some in Laker Nation, this is the right move.
ESPN wants the Los Angeles Lakers to be healthy come playoff time
Even without their stars, the Lakers find themselves well above .500 in the deep Western Conference in the early part of April. While they are not going to finish with the best record in the West this year, as long as James and Davis are healthy, the Lakers are capable of repeating as division champions no matter where they are slotted in the Western Conference playoffs.
However, it will be challenging for all teams that do not garner a top-six seed in either conference. The Lakers need to avoid that from happening to set themselves up for the best chance to succeed. The last thing they need is to take part in the No. 7 to No. 10 seeded play-in games. As long as the Lakers are healthy in the playoffs, ESPN and Turner are not going to have any issues with them.
ESPN made the right call by pulling the Lakers’ game vs. the Knicks off the national TV schedule.