It has been a struggling year for the Los Angeles Lakers who are arguably one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NBA. One of these reasons is the fact that their star player Kobe Bryant has been gone the majority of the season, aside from a few games. However, the glaring problem evident to the Lakers is their management problem. Between the last two seasons, it might be more evident than ever that for the Lakers to be led successfully again, Jim Buss should not be the one in charge.
This of course came to a head the other day when the team announced that Kobe will not play the remainder of the season. Of course this shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone’s dismay. Kobe is getting older and as the standings currently are, the Lakers are a half game away from the worst record in the western conference with 18 games left in the regular season. Because of this, there is no need to waste the legend on a team that has no chance of making the playoffs.
Considering Kobe is done for the season, the blame of how poorly the team has performed lies squarely on the head of Jim Buss. From most people’s perspectives they knew with the seriousness of his injury that Kobe might not play this season. When this happens to a team, adjustments need to be put into place. While Mitch Kupchak is the general manager of the squad, it is no secret that everything runs through Buss. The fact is the Lakers haven’t done much to improve their roster from a year ago.
What have they done? They signed inconsistent players like Chris Kaman, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young along with a couple of mediocre draft picks. In other words, there isn’t much of an increase in personnel here. With the Lakers faltering, it seems evident no one wants to play with them and they haven’t been able to receive a good player the last couple of years. Sure, they thought they would come back to prominence when they signed Steve Nash; however, with his increasing age and nagging injuries that hasn’t helped their case.
Another problem this season in terms of personnel moves is that nothing has really happened since the summer. No trades have been made to boost the talent of the roster. This past trade deadline, the Lakers were silent. It was rumored that they would trade Gasol for several pieces, but instead they won’t be getting anything in return for the big man who is likely to leave for another team when he becomes a free agent. It seems as though the Lakers led by Jim Buss should not be resting on its laurels, but it is.
Beyond personnel though, what really has hurt the Lakers is the fiasco of hiring a coach a few years ago once they fired Mike Brown. During that time it was rumored that there would be a reuniting of Phil Jackson with the Lakers; however, due to Jim Buss rumored to have a personal problem with the coaching legend, he picked Mike D’Antoni instead, hoping it would be a return to the showtime Lakers.
The problem with the ideology of bringing the Lakers back to their showtime era is that they had no one who could really play in that style. To play the run and gun style, you need young players who can move. At the time, you had Dwight Howard who was coming off an injury, an aging Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. By playing the run and gun style that D’Antoni is known for meant that these players would get brought down by injuries, and that’s exactly what happened.
As a result, Dwight Howard left town and the other three starters haven’t been able to stay consistently on the court. What boggles the mind more in terms of the leadership of Jim Buss is that this season while Kobe was attempting to come back to the court, he gave him a contract extension the next two years worth $48.5 million. As a result, the Lakers are going to be strapped in terms of adding talent to the team.
Would Kobe have accepted a small sum of money? Probably not. However, he probably would have accepted a much smaller salary, because if there’s one thing that can be said about Kobe Bryant it is that he wants to win. Unfortunately with them paying him this much, it’ll be hard to get talent that will help him win another championship.
Another problem that has been reported about the Lakers is that they are most likely not going to be going after any major talents, because they will instead keep Steve Nash. If nothing else, this should be reason for Jim Buss not to keep his job. Steve Nash, while he was a great player in his prime has barely played for the team this year, and when he has, he’s only been able to dig out subpar play.
The bottom line is the Lakers are in serious trouble. The last few years they’ve decided to go with terrible decisions concerning trades, signings and draft picks — not to mention overpaying players. This all seems to be more than enough evidence that the Lakers should not be led by Jim Buss. As unlikely as it is, they should instead either be led by his sister Jeanie or to find new blood, but the only way this happens is if Jim relinquishes his power, which he won’t do.
Opinion by Simon Mounsey