Let’s rewind 314 days.
The sun was shining, the palm trees swaying in the wind, Magic Johnson had a big ole smile on his face, and Lebron James had just signed with the Lakers.
The next question would be who would join James and the young core in Los Angeles. While rumors of Kawhi and Paul George both fell through, optimism was immediately placed on the 2019 offseason.
Okay now, let’s speed those 314 days up to real-time.
The sun is still shining and the palm trees are still swaying. Heck Magic Johnson is probably still smiling somewhere, and Lebron is still a Laker.
However, the resignation of Magic Johnson right before the team’s final regular-season game encapsulated the 2018-2019 season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The team was supposed to return to the playoffs thanks to the arrival of “The King” and continued development of the young guys. After a 20-14 start sitting in the 4th seed, the Lakers were sitting pretty.
Then the injury bug hit.
Lebron missed six weeks with a groin strain. Lonzo Ball sprained his ankle and was lost for the year. Brandon Ingram had to deal with career-threatening blood clots. Rajon Rondo dealt with multiple hand injuries.
The trade deadline destroyed any remaining team chemistry. Every player not named Lebron James was reportedly on the table for superstar Anthony Davis.
Imagine how awkward that locker room had to be once the Pelicans revealed they were bluffing and had no intention of trading with the Lakers.
Two months later the Lakers season mercifully ended. The team finished with another losing season at 37-45.
Luke Walton walked out a few days after Johnson, leaving Jeanie Buss, Linda Rambis, and Rob Pelinka to figure out the mess. That crew doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Sure Jeanie brings more to the table than her brother, and Pelinka seems to be able to talk a big game. But seven years later with no playoff appearances since 2012, and the Purple and Gold are all out of sorts.
It is so bad that even fans are outside of Staples Center with pitchforks yelling for Lavar Ball to coach team. Okay, they’re probably joking but this really happened.
Buss and Pelinka have a long list of challenges ahead of them. Pelinka for one isn’t liked by many other general managers across the league.
His poor reputation will make it hard for the Lakers to make trades for a star going forward. Coupled with Buss’ blind ambition to “keep the Lakers within the family”, something has to give.
On Saturday the first domino fell with Frank Vogel being announced as the next Lakers coach. On the surface, a safe move for a schematic based coach who had success with the Pacers a few years ago before struggling in Orlando.
But don’t you worry, it gets better.
The Lakers added Jason Kidd to their coaching staff as an assistant to Vogel. They made their under the radar splash after all.
The Lakers reportedly brought on Kidd to focus more on player development with their young players such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. Is it really fair to Vogel though to have him look down the bench and see his potential replacement any time he is under fire?
Of course, it’s not fair. But I don’t think Vogel’s phone was exactly busy when the Lakers made him the three-year offer, leaving him with limited options for employment.
The next step for the Lakers is to acquire a star. Seems easy enough right?
Kevin Durant openly dissed Lebron James. Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to play with the other team in Staples. Klay Thompson seems very happy as a splash brother for life. Who knows if Kyrie and Lebron have fully squashed their beef enough to play together again.
Every free agent has a question mark attached to them. The front office needs to do whatever it takes to get one.
Another star would still give the Lakers a very solid roster which should be able to make the playoffs. Barring unforeseen circumstances such as injuries like this past year.
For a franchise going through turmoil, progression in the wins and loss column is the only thing that can keep them afloat.
I don’t think this is what Lebron James signed up for when he decided to take his talents to Hollywood.