LeBron James has been able to control the speed of everything around him. He has anchored good and bad teams to at least the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately, this season will end with no postseason for the first time in over 15 years. While some have put the blame at James for not making the postseason, the narrative should be shifted towards management and ownership, for the Los Angeles Lakers lack of recent success. Here are four ways President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson has failed the Lakers and now has the organization looking more like the new New York Knicks.
Lakers Trade Away D’Angelo Russell
The first major test of the new regime had decidedly mixed results.
Days before the draft, Johnson shed the costly contract of Timofey Mozgov by giving up on D’Angelo Russell, who the team had selected second overall just two years earlier. In return for the duo, the Brooklyn Nets gave up Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft, which turned into the promising Kyle Kuzma. But Russell has blossomed this year with the Nets, earning an All-Star appearance while leading Brooklyn back to the playoffs. Magic put a lot of stock into Lonzo Ball, but two years later, it looks like he beat on the wrong point guard.
The Buss Family Drama
Since the Late Dr. Buss passed away in February of 2013, the Lakers haven’t make the playoffs under the leadership of his daughter, Jeanie Buss. In that span, the Lakers have the worst record in the league. Even the New York Knicks have a better record and more playoff wins in that span than the Lakers.
Jeanie once fired her brother Jim Buss for the direction the Lakers where heading. Jeanie then goes on to reward Kobe Bryant with a lifetime achievement contract extension, that set the Lakers back financially for years to come. Fast forward to today, Johnson stepped down and didn’t tell Jeanie first speaks volumes of the status of the Lakers’ front office. Many speculated that Jeanie treats everyone like family and in business, that doesn’t work out well. Jeanie probably wanted more from Magic in the coming year, and Magic saw that as a way out. Instead of being critical about Johnson leaving, Jeanie took a very soft stand that will not sit well around other front offices in the league.
Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You’ve brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you 💜💛 https://t.co/ofmQl6BtBz
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 10, 2019
LeBron James And The Suicide Squad
Signing James to a long-term contract in 2018 was exactly the kind of result the Lakers had planned for and needed, setting expectations that they would return to the playoffs and compete for a championship. But the free agents the Lakers signed to surround him — Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley — immediately puzzled some observers. The roster moves didn’t seem championship level worthy, let alone playoff qualifying.
Everyone Wants The Lakers To Fail
Not getting Anthony Davis might have signaled the obvious, nobody wants to see the Lakers succeed. Not getting Davis at the trade deadline continued a very ugly pattern of continuous All-Star level talents not finding a way to LA. Paul George didn’t want to become a Laker and resigned with Oklahoma City. All indications are Khawi Leonard doesn’t want to play for the Lakers. Same can also be said about upcoming free agent Kevin Durrant. The allure of playing for the Lakers isn’t what it use to be. Six consecutive years of losing doesn’t help recruit All-Stars to come to your organization, even if you have James on the roster.
Between management issues, an older James, and the question marks with the core young players, the Lakers are in the midst of a not so bright future. Hopefully, they can ride the ship and navigate their way back to being the respectable 16th championship organization. If not just look at how long it took the New York Knicks to turn around their image. Sorry, that’s still a work in progress in New York, but at least their only issue is the owner. In LA, there are a lot more holes with the Lakers.