What Went Wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers?


(Photo from latimes.com)

How the mighty have fallen. And unfortunately, I did not see this coming. Unlike many, I thought show time was back. LeBron James joined the Lakers this offseason and it was no joke. I was excited beyond belief and knew that the Lakers would at least be a playoff team in the crowded west, right?

The Lakers were streaking and beat the Warriors on Christmas Day. All I kept thinking in my head was about how exciting the latter part of the season was going to be. The Lakers were the fourth seed and were looking like an extreme threat to (at least) give me hope that they could perhaps take one game from the Warriors in the playoffs.

Now that would have been an exciting feat. Yes, I said it, just one game from the defending champions would make me feel like this was a successful season.

Fast forward to the present and the Lakers are sitting out of the playoffs. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are both out for the season. We have Kyle Kuzma pushing LeBron to switch on defence, and the veterans who were brought to the team to be playmakers all look like shells of their former selves which is not surprising.

All in all, this is a huge mess which brings about the question, what went wrong with the Lakers? The answer is fairly simple actually, and the blame should be on the Lakers front office. More specifically, Magic Johnson, President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, and Robert Pelinka, GM of the Lakers.

Magic and Pelinka had it all under control. They had arguably the biggest free agent signing in Los Angeles. All they had to do is find some all-NBA talent (e.g. Paul George), shore up the bench with some shooters, and look to trade some of their young assets for veterans/all-stars).

Easy right?

Well, the Lakers did the exact opposite. They weren’t able to use any of their young assets to attain any relevant star/veteran in the offseason. Hence, no other stars or strong veteran presences on the Lakers this season (sorry Lance, you definitely don’t count).

Moreover, they struck out with Paul George. By not trading for him when he was available, they risked not having the same leverage a team like OKC could have over PG when the offseason rolled around. Now, it looks terrible on the Lakers, who hoarded their young assets (who aren’t even impressive) to many NBA GMs, which resulted in PG re-signing with OKC. Paul George is having an amazing season and if paired with LeBron, it could have definitely made for an impactful 1-2 punch.

Lastly, the Lakers let Julius Randle and Brook Lopez walk (two players who are both having strong seasons for their respective teams). Brook Lopez would have been perfect in comparison to Tyson Chandler or JaVale McGee next to LeBron. He is knocking down 36.6% of his three pointers this season and would have been able to space the floor. Right now, the Lakers lack any sort of floor spacers and the offence just looks extremely stale.

The Lakers have been the centre of attention this NBA season. Any team with LeBron on it is bound to be this way. However, the spotlight is definitely too bright and the Lakers have a lot of work to do in order to turn this roster around.

Ultimately, it’s on the Lakers' front office to fix this mess and I am sure that things will get fixed sooner rather than later. Cheers to next season!