You know what this team is? It’s the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It’s New Coke. It’s Major Shake.
In more succinct terms, it’s the kind of colossal banana-in-the-tailpipe that occurs when stupid people with stupid ideas are placed in charge of billion dollar businesses, and are allowed to let their (completely unjustified, unearned) ego call the shots.
Rooting for this team, or rather, stomaching this team, is going to be a matter of perspective. If you are heading into this season expecting anything but some sort of sad Kobe Bryant farewell tour, you’re going to be bummed. Of course, if you are pumped up to watch a team full of bargain rack discounts, draft busts and otherwise un-desirable NBA players follow Kobe around like confused puppies while Byron Scott employs his outdated-by-twenty-years coaching philosophy (Byron’s bright idea is to shoot less three pointers than anyone else, which the stats will tell you is a rather horrible strategy) and rants about “The Pat Riley Way” or whatever the fuck, then hey, this season is gonna be your own personal non-stop erotic cabaret!
How did we get here? Here’s the short version.
Jimmy Buss is running the NBA’s premier franchise despite having no other qualification beside birthright, and he doesn’t know how to put together a basketball team. That’s reasons 1-72, people. Kobe’s attitude/mental state/competitive urges rank 73rd. Financially, the Lakers are making truckloads of money and most of that is attributable to Kobe, one way or another. In that sense, the guy is as underpaid as any NBA player this side of LeBron. From an actual basketball standpoint, it was an atrocious overpay buy hey, that’s what you get when you have dim people running your basketball team. Of course, this isn’t anywhere close to being the main reason this team is gonna suck, since Kobe making 23.5 million this year (and cutting into the Lakers’ salary cap) only hampers the Lakers’ chances at signing big time free agents if any of said free agents actually wanted to come play for a team completely lacking in assets, talent depth, solid management, etc.
And, believe me, that’s the truth about the shape this team is in. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the marquee Free Agents are either staying with their original teams or going to teams that are built to win in the immediate future, and the Lakers’ aint that. For all of the gaga about LeBron’s sentimental homecoming tour, he wasn’t going back there without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving waiting for him. Jim Buss and his stooges’ brilliant off-season plan tanked because it was a horribly constructed plan, and the same thing will happen in two years when Kobe is gone and they try to lure Kevin Durant, Kevin Love or whoever else with nothing more attractive than the chance to come to LA and pick their coach/teammates. Because, as you know, there’s nothing a frustrated superstar covets more than the chance to go to an empty, asset-barren team and start over!
Jimmy Buss, baby.
Forget about all of the other missteps little Jimmy has made, if you can. Forget about hiring Mike Brown to coach a 100m payroll, or bringing in Mike D’ Antoni, a run & gun system coach and saddling him with an old, decrepit roster who couldn’t run it’s way out of a paper fucking bag. Nevermind,if you can, the ill-fated attempts to re-sign Dwight Howard or the laughable efforts to snag LeBron, Carmelo or anyone else of worth this year. I’m serious. For the sake of argument, put all of that shit out of your mind and just focus on this one question, because it’s the only one that matters at all in the grand scheme of things.
How is this team gonna get good again?
Before you answer “through the draft”, I’ll remind you that the Lakers do not own their first round picks in either 2015 or 2017. Well, they could own them, but only if the picks are in the top 5, which means they have to be a hot bowl of dicks all year long, which possible as it may be, doesn’t sound like fun.
Before you answer “through free agency:, I’ll again remind you that nobody, not Kevin Love or Kevin Durant or Kevin Bacon, is coming to a Laker team that has nothing but Julius Randle and 37 year old Kobe Bryant to offer in the way of supporting casts. The only way you are getting marquee free agents in this era is if you can prove you have the pieces in place to compete, or your upper management is competent enough to go out and get them. In this case, the Lakers are royally fucked on both counts.
So yeah, there’s no hope here, unless you believe in miracles. As of today, the team is stripped bare of assets, young talent and intelligent leadership in the front office, and in two years time, the face of the franchise will ride of into the sunset, bringing the TV ratings, ad revenue and paying customer base with him.
Think about this for a second. Do you know what is the worst Laker team in LA franchise history? That would be last years’ team. They went 27-55, and you’d have to go all the way back to the 1958 Minneapolis Lakers to find a worse team. Now, do you think this years’ version will be any better? What about next year’s, which will be Kobe’s last with the team? How about when he’s gone and the team is paced in the stewardship of Nick Young?
Ah, I could keep on going but I rest my case. The Lakers are doomed for as long as Jim Buss insists on playing fantasy basketball with his dad’s team (and money) and that’s just all there is to it. If you fancy yourself a loyalist and see fit to stick it out with this team, just know that you’ve been warned. The longer you stick around, the more you will be forced to watch the NBA’s proudest modern franchise sink to depths never before fathomed.
The Lakers are dead. Nothing more to see here. Please move along.
Shit. Wait a minute. This was supposed to be a “season preview of the Lakers”, wasn’t it?
Ok, gimme a second here.
Alright. Here we go.
The Lakers are totally dicked at point guard because Steve Nash, gutty little trooper that he is, had his back quit on him after years of threatening to. Byron Scott’s Plan B was to start career journeyman and barely-an-NBA-player Ronnie Price instead, presumably because Jeremy Lin, fun as he may be to watch on pick & rolls, is not a starting PG so much as he’s a nice change of pace guard off your bench. Basically, the Lakers’ point guards are in contention for the worst in the entire NBA, and that’s being nice. There is some buzz about the league granting them and injury exemption worth about 5m to replace Nash, but don’t go getting your hopes up about that one.
Let’s see. What else?
Oh, the best defensive player on this team is Wesley Johnson. The other four starters (as of this exact moment, injuries be damned) are Kobe, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill and Lin, who collectively couldn’t guard a soiled diaper. Whereas last years’ team at least had Mike D’ Antoni’s offense and thus a chance at actually outscoring people, this years’ team is coached by Byron Scott, who has made himself the laughing stock of the league this pre-season by insisting that the three point shot is for suckers and doesn’t win titles, which would be fine if he wasn’t completely wrong in the wrongest sense of the word wrong. But he is.
So yeah, the point guards are a mouthful of sores, the defense is a virtual STD, the coaching methods are outdated. That pretty much sums it up. The absolute peak of this team would appear to be somewhere around 35 wins, and that’s if Kobe is good for 20 a night, everyone stays healthy and they bring in a point guard who can run the team. If Kobe gets hurt, it’s gonna get butt ass ugly, and in a hurry.
If it’s silver linings you’re looking for, I present the two likely candidates:
1) Julius Randle turns out to be a beast, giving hope to a franchise that currently has none. A friend of mine, whose opinion I almost always trust, sees Randle as a sort of Lamar Odom (size, skill, left-handedness) and Zach Randolph (shooting, brute force) type hybrid, which though it may sound impossibly optimistic, just might be true. This, and the two-year Kobe farewell tour, in which he teaches these young fellas master classes on scoring in the post without jumping and other assorted veteran treachery, is about all a Laker fan has to look forward to this year in the way of intrigue or excitement. Well, unless we get a temporary Linsanity redux, but I wouldn’t go holding my breath for that one.
2) The Lakers suck so bad that they end up in the bottom five of the league, thus keeping next year’s lottery pick. As outlined above, it’s gonna take a miracle to turn this franchise around any time soon, and the most likely miracle I can think of involves landing a very high lottery pick and striking it rich with some young phenom. If all this sounds impossible dire, it is.
Like I said, nothing to see here. Well, nothing except failure, incompetence and the nepotism in it’s purest (and ugliest) form. This is the 2015 Lakers, in a nutshell. If they win more than thirty games, I’ll make out with my dog.
Enjoy the show.