Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Photo by: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Having lost their last seven out of eight games, the Los Angeles Lakers have truly given up on their once promising start to the season. From Brandon Ingram dealing with a blood clot in his right arm that has sidelined star athletes like Chris Bosh to Lonzo Ball being ruled out for the rest of the season from a grade 3 ankle sprain, the Lakers have completely shut themselves down for the season. Additionally, LeBron James was put on a minutes restriction sitting out the second night of back to backs foreshadowing the upcoming injury reports of Ball and Ingram. For someone has continuously been in playoff contention for years on end and now has to sit on the sidelines as everyone else charges forward, James may feel frustration, but he is not the reason to blame for the Lakers’ collapse. This drama filled season lies entirely on the fault of the organization. The Lakers, a mismanaged organization run by Jeanie Buss who clearly has no sense of what direction to lead this organization in. Let’s look at what the Lakers did wrong to understand why their season plummeted off the deep end.
Their Free Agent Acquisitions
After their free agency splash with the signing of LeBron James, the Lakers looked poised to become a real threat in the Western Conference. However, the Lakers began signing journeyman like JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson whose skills do not necessarily fit alongside James or the rest of the roster. Although they were odd signings, they were most definitely a sign that the Lakers were going to have an odd season.
Before the NBA season began, the Lakers stressed the addition of LeBron would not steer them away from building a team for the future. However, the addition of LeBron could make any team an automatic championship contender. Early in the season, they were the fourth seed in the Western Conference contrary to expectations that they were going to fall flat against the monstrous teams out in the West. However, with the team performing exceptionally well, the team had new expectations to meet, but the injury bug kept pushing the Lakers further and further away from a chance to compete in the playoffs. Then the whole Anthony Davis situation happened where the Lakers were rumored to have offered their entire core of young players for a superstar on an expiring contract. This signaled that the Lakers’ organization were pushing for a chance to compete now instead of what they had suggested earlier in the season.
How They Handled the Anthony Davis Situation
The rather public display of the Lakers’ bid for Anthony Davis left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth involved. The Lakers’ trade offers exposed their true nature and their desperation to move everyone within the organization besides James. This move might have sparked jealousy in the locker room and gave players the impression of the cruel reality that there is no loyalty in the NBA anymore. Young players who idolized LeBron and had dreams of playing for the Lakers were now being thoughtlessly thrown around without a care. This resulted in blowouts after blowouts to NBA teams because of the Lakers losing motivation to play for the franchise. Magic Johnson surely did not help with his pep talk to the players by basically telling them that “the NBA is a business.” The situation is kind of like putting in your sweat and tears at your dream job, but then the company tries to fire you but has to bring you back in because they did not get what they originally wanted. This kind of move just makes the players feel like the Lakers had to settle for them since they did not get Anthony Davis.
Overall, the Lakers simply mishandled situations that could have turned out far better. The Lakers’ free agency signings did not bode well for developing a team whose skills complemented one another and Jeanie Buss’ constant change of direction for the franchise placed them in an awkward position. Once the team establishes a direction for the future while committing to their young players and acquire free agents who fit with the team, the Lakers can once again return to the top of the NBA standings.