Drama In La La Land
In the last few weeks, the chaos within the Los Angeles Lakers upper management has been front page news. Just a few days ago former Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, made an appearance on ESPN’s First Take discussing everything from his abrupt departure, his relationship with Jeanie Buss, and the backstabbing of general manager Rob Pelinka.
Magic revealed some of Pelinka’s character when he shared: “People around the Lakers office were telling me that Rob was saying things, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back that I wasn’t in the office enough… If you want to elevate yourself I’m all for that. You want growth in corporate America or within the Lakers, I’m all for that too; but there’s a way to get that and it’s not talking about the person who’s above you.”
Magic went on to say the “final straw” was his decision to relieve former head coach Luke Walton and owner Jeanie Buss on her counsel’s recommendation preventing the action.
Now, you might not think this story is controversial if you’re just thinking about Magic’s decision as it applies to himself, but many think that the disorderly management within the Lakers could repel potential free agent superstars from signing with the Lakers. After all, who would want to deal with constant missteps and poor decisions by the Lakers top brass? Ultimately, if people within the organization could run one of the most beloved Lakers of all time out of a job, what would they do with a new player once he enters a shooting slump, or strings together a couple of bad games?
“First Things First” correspondent, Nick Wright, openly questioned whether the Lakers would even be a contender in free agency if LeBron wasn’t there. “If LeBron wasn’t there, would they have any shot at one of these free agents? If LeBron wasn’t there would this organization be anything other than a team in total disarray, because since the season ended they appear to be a team in total disarray.”
Even with the madness going on within the Lakers organization, there are a few things Lakers fans can rely on to be a convincing factor for free agents.
First and foremost, LeBron James. Lebron is known to be a recruiter, dating back to his days in Miami. Part of the Lebron angle is that pairing with LeBron James is an almost guarantee of contending for a championship. Just look at his previous track record of going to the finals for an unprecedented eight years straight. Even with this year’s young Lakers group lacking a second all-star, James had his team fourth in the west, and playing very good basketball before an injury in December forced him to miss 17 games, where the Lakers went 6-11.
What is anticipated to be the second leading factor is the City of Los Angeles itself… There’s a reason LA and New York are both favorites to land premier free agents this summer. Players want to live and play in a big market with easy accessibility to their side businesses. After all, many players already live in LA during the offseason, why not stay there year-round?
Lastly, the Lakers are a storied franchise that played host to some of the league’s all-time greatest players. While the Lakers have struggled as of late, they have been fostering a mentality of “championship or bust” into their players and coaches. After all, this organization has the second most championships in league history with 16. They have a history of signing historically great free agents such as Shaquille O’Neal and, trading for others like Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
So, even with everything going on within the Lakers front office, I pose this: Has Lakers management destroyed any possibility of the team landing a key free agent, or is LeBron’s greatness paired with the Lakers championship pedigree enough for free agents to ignore the noise in management and come to LA this summer?
More on that soon…