Six months ago, LeBron James was preparing for his first game as with the Lakers, and analysts were debating just how far LA could go in the playoffs, and whether or not they could contend with the Warriors. After a slow start, people kept expecting the season to get better. Then, LeBron got hurt on Christmas, and the Lakers fell out of the top 8 in the Western Conference. From there, the season spiraled out of control. LeBron’s “playoff mode” turned into nothing more than words, and the Lakers missed the postseason for the sixth-consecutive season. Now, Luke Walton is all but fired, Magic Johnson resigned, and Anthony Davis still isn’t a Laker. Here’s what the Lakers need to do next.
Find A New President and GM
Before the Lakers can hire a new coach and coaching staff, they need a new president of basketball operations. Magic Johnson has held the position since February of 2017, however, he stepped down Tuesday night. Johnson’s role included both executive vice president of the franchise, as well as serving as general manager. By far Johnson’s most notable move was acquiring LeBron James via free agency. He also drafted Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma who both have potential to be great. On the other hand, he also failed to land Anthony Davis in a dramatic trade-deadline saga. Finding a new president and GM should be of utmost importance to the organization, and thanks to Johnson’s sudden announcement, they have little time to do so.
Find A New Coach
The second thing on Jeanie Buss’ list should be to land a new head coach. With the Lakers finishing at 37-45 and missing the playoffs yet again, all signs point to Luke Walton and his staff being wiped away. In 3 seasons as head coach, Walton failed to finish with a winning record, and never won more than 37 games in a season. No matter who the Lakers hire, you have to figure that he’ll have to have a positive relationship with LeBron. Coaching one of the all-time greats is no easy task, and it’s even more difficult when the team has struggled for multiple seasons. Los Angeles’ best bet is to hire a proven leader, who isn’t afraid to take control of the locker room, and one that can handle the pressure of coaching in LA.
Prepare For the Draft
Despite the season just finishing, the NBA Draft is a little over two months away, and the Lakers currently don’t have a general manager, and their coach’s future is uncertain to say the least. Los Angeles will be in the lottery, and therefore should get a player who could make an impact right away. Per Bleacher Report, the Lakers are projected to hold the 11th-overall pick, and may look to improve upon the league’s next-to-last three-point offense. The Lakers shot only 33.3% from beyond the arc this season, with their best shooters being Alex Caruso (who played only 25 games) and Lance Stephenson. De’Andre Hunter from Virginia could be a possibility here, as he is a reliable, not necessarily prolific, shooter who can defend and rebound from the guard position. He’s certainly an NBA-ready player, and can help shore up the Lakers’ aging rotation. Plus the three-point issues could be solved if LA can land Klay Thompson.
Build For The Future
This past offseason, Magic Johnson went out and signed LeBron James, who in turn recruited Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Michael Beasley. The vets were supposed to help guide the Lakers’ young stars and push the team towards title contention. Instead, Rondo missed almost half the season, Beasley rarely played and was traded away, and James himself ran into injuries. McGee and Stephenson were solid role players this season, but they aren’t the future of the franchise. Ball, Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram are each very talented, and in their own unique way. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see one, if not more, of the three traded this offseason. Whether through the draft, trades, or free agency, the Lakers need to get young if they want to return to title-level play.
For such an iconic and historically good organization, it’s bad for the sport to have the Lakers struggling. The Clippers are the best team in LA at the moment, and no disrespect towards them, but nobody really cares. Los Angeles basketball equals the Lakers, and for many NBA fans, the NBA equals the Lakers. With greats like Wilt, Jerry West, Magic, and Kobe, the Lakers are almost the face of the NBA. In fact, Jerry West literally IS the face of the NBA (on the logo, of course). It’s time that the LA Lakers return from bottom feeder and transform to contender. The NBA needs it, and the fans alike need it. Come on Lake Show, get it right this time.
*All Stats From ESPN.com and Basketball Reference