What happened with the Lakers?
The team failed to qualify for the Play-In tournament after losing to the Phoenix Suns last week. They ended the season with a record of 33-49
When the season had yet to see its first basket, the Lakers were already the favorites to win this year’s NBA championship. The team had made some aggressive moves during the preseason. They went after Russell Westbrook, who had just come out of a great individual season with the Washington Wizards, in addition to adding players like Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Rajon Rondo.
The team’s front office, led by Jeanie Buss, owner of the team and president, GM Rob Pelinka, and special advisor Kurt Kambis, decided to bet on veteran players who had already had experience winning. Trading away young talent like Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso in an attempt to win “right now” rather than build and succeed around a promising young talented team.
In LeBron we trust
This strategy was constructed by thinking about what was best for team star LeBron James. The “King’s” age has become a problem for LA. The 37-year-old is still producing impressive numbers, fighting for the scoring title this season. But fear and a need to win while James is still active made GM Rob Pelinka think that getting LeBron help in the likes of Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony was the answer.
Read Flags galore rained over the Lakers when they finally announced that Westbrook was joining the team. Russ is known for needing to have the ball in his hands and that teams need to be built around him, but pairing him with LeBron meant that this would be an issue.
How it began for the Lakers this season
Unfortunately, the team started the preseason with bad numbers. They lost to the Kings 116 - 112 and Later to the Warriors 99 - 111. Expert analysts and pundits were pointing to the fact that the team had three players who needed the ball too much on their hands. Doubts about how well Westbrook and LeBron would work became a reality. The team never seemed to be working together.
Moreover, when it rains, it pours, and that was true in LA. The team was only able to have its three big players for twenty-one games, with a record of 11-10. The multiple injuries that Anthony Davis suffered this year might be the biggest reason why the franchise was never dominant. It already happened the year before, when the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs right after Davis was hit with injury.
Vogel out, now what?
The front office accused head coach Frank Vogel of misusing the talent he had on the team. He barely played Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan, two future Hall of Famers. He preferred to play LeBron as a center instead. Vogel never used Rondo and kept Westbrook as PG, while many experts wanted to see the team play with the ex-Celtics instead. He had been instrumental in winning the team’s last championship at the Disney bubble.
Now that Vogel is out, many speculate what the team will be doing next year (Raptor’s Nick Nurse is apparently on the Lakers’ short list for Vogel’s replacement). However, the truth is that this will be the second consecutive year that the team fails to reach the NBA finals and is the second time in more than a decade that LeBron James will fail to reach the playoffs as well.