As the 2016-17 regular season comes to a close, so too does another loss-riddled season of atrocious Lakers basketball.
Nowadays, this has become more of a normality than a shocker with this team, as the proverbial needle of success moves ever so slowly. It begs the question: amid all the losses, management changes, and player alienations (Yes, I’m looking at you, Mozzy and Deng) you’ve got to wonder but one thing:
Have these Lakers changed league perception, both from a player and organizational standpoint?
Sure, it is incredibly inconceivable to even take this argument into consideration for ANY NBA team, especially when the on-court product has only given you seven more wins in the same span of time in comparison to the last campaign.
This time around last season, the Lakers were a 16-61 team with no sense of direction, no cohesion, and not much to say for what was nothing more than a campaign used to bid adieu to Laker legend Kobe Bryant.
This season, with four games remaining, they’ve got almost as bad a record as the last, albeit with much more to show for their struggle.
Amid a hierarchical family clash between Jeanie and Jim, degradation of D’Angelo Russell and his self-accountability, and a grand populous of Laker fans preaching the #TeamTank movement (not that I’m against it; it makes sense), it would be incredibly ignorant to devalue the meaning of all those things in relation to how this team looks like from the outside.
Now with a completely revamped front office management, ownership group, and a young, invested, determined NBA coach in Luke Walton with one season under his belt, couldn’t we argue that THIS team has a much more formidable argument to present to impending free agents that are set to hit the market this upcoming free agency?
Or how about changing the general consensus of what the league thinks about this team, the organization that runs it, and everything that they have molded as ‘truth’ according to the moves that they have made these last couple of seasons?
Sure, this is incredibly difficult to rectify, considering the fact that paradigms are hard to change or get away from. But it isn’t an impossible one.
When you’re a team like the Lakers, who has gone through the changes that you have been through within the span of a SINGLE year, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.
Removing Byron Scott.
Removing Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.
Instating Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka as their replacements with Jeanie Buss now officially leading you at the forefront of it all?
If I had to take a gamble on how these moves were perceived by others around the league, I’d favor the direction and would consider the team a notch higher in amiability in comparison to previous years.
The verdict yet sits on the table, how this will all translate into the impending offseason. Considering the seriousness of the situation with the top-three protected pick, along with the new chain of command, it will certainly be interesting to see how those outside variables play a role in defining how this team is perceived in the future.