I tried wrapping my head around the Lakers and their front office as a whole. It’s hard to put in basketball terms.
Are you familiar with the Dark Souls franchise? It’s an action role-playing game from From Software. The crux of this game is that it’s incredibly difficult. Players die constantly. But with each death, you learn. You progress by minimizing your mistakes and doing things differently than your last attempt.
For the older folks, think of it like Groundhog’s Day but with demons and a less lovable protagonist.
The point I’m trying to make is that if something is going wrong, you change the way you do things. Think about the quote that’s commonly misinterpreted to Albert Einstein:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result
Somehow after all of the blunders, the Lakers have had since they last made the playoffs, they have learned nothing. This isn’t even stemming from what Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka are doing; they saw Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss make mistakes of their own.
We were days away from thinking Tyronn Lue would be the head coach. With the front office fumbling that away, it’s time that we have a change.
Mike D’Antoni resigned as head coach. Many Laker fans rejoiced even though he was not the problem with the franchise. It’s an important time for the franchise. Your star player is on his way out and it is going to be a transitional period.
The person hired to lead the way was none other than former Laker, Byron Scott, who fully ceded command to Kobe Bryant as his goodbye tour came at the expense of any semblance of a basketball team. It makes Scott’s claim that Bryant would have to “change his game” if he were coach even more hilarious.
So, to give the front office credit, they at least interviewed multiple people for the position.
I’m taking the credit back because those people were Lionel Hollins (who went to Brooklyn), Kurt Rambis (Knicks/got caught liking porn on his Twitter account), Alvin Gentry (Golden State), and Mike Dunleavy.
Three of those people (including Scott) were former Lakers in one form or another, with Rambis being an assistant and former player and Dunleavy coaching the Lakers in the early ’90s.
There was a lot of talk of Byron being the correct choice as he “knew what it meant to be a Laker.”
“He bled purple and gold.”
“He’s going to lead the team in ways that Mike D’Antoni couldn’t.”
He led them to the worst two years of the Lakers franchise. He led them to 38 wins in two seasons.
Byron Scott gets fired. Who are Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss going to interview?
With a job like the Lakers head coaching position, you’d think they would at least interview multiple candidates. In this case, Kupchak and Buss thought they had their guy. You’d at least want to do your due diligence and give candidates a shot. There’s no excuse, especially with a job like this.
It seemed that Luke was able to get this job due to his player management and the job he did when the Warriors started off with a 24-1 record he accumulated while taking over for the ailing Steve Kerr. Despite that 24-1 record, the Warriors would go on to blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
He is also a former Laker.
Despite interviews and reports that the Lakers were looking at Monty Williams and (god forbid) Jason Kidd, Ty Lue was their first choice for the head coach position. As you’ve seen by now, negotiations with Lue have deteriorated. Even though they had their choice, they somehow had the worst negotiators talking with Lue.
Negotiations really deteriorated w/ Ty Lue when the Lakers refused to offer more than a three year deal that was designed to line up with LeBron James’ contract. Lue felt insulted the Lakers only saw him as a coach for LeBron, sources close to the process told ESPN.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 9, 2019
Of course, he’s a former Laker but his relationship with LeBron James is something notable. He had the X’s and O’s down, unlike Walton. This wouldn’t be the greatest hire ever, but at least it would’ve been a good hire. Unfortunately, they shortchanged him, and now they’ll have to find another coach in a candidate pool that is less than stellar.
Ty Lue didn’t want to be seen as LeBron’s coach. He wanted to be the coach of the Lakers. The Lakers did not want to make it seem like LeBron was calling the shots.
Somehow they messed that up too.
Lue wanted five years.
By offering three years to Lue, it shows they wanted to align his time with the team with LeBron James. A coach that has proven himself to work with LeBron walked away from the offer. Somehow the Lakers front office could not negotiate a number in between three and five. Not allowing him the autonomy to pick his own coaching staff is an issue too. Especially if they wanted him to include Kidd who adds nothing to the team.
What did we learn?
It’s that the Lakers are going to continue to be a middling franchise unless they begin to do something differently. The team is being run like they’re a fraternity. And no other team relies on the brand as a way of selling the team to potential players or coaches. Lakers exceptionalism and pride runs deep throughout the franchise to a fault.
Most of the people that they have interviewed for the head coaching position were involved in the Lakers organization in some way shape or form.
Looking at former Lakers for positions is fine, but there is no shame in looking outside of the organization.
Hiring former Lakers for jobs they are not qualified for is inexcusable.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were hired due to the fact that they have ties to this organization! Magic was a largely absent president of basketball operations. He had no prior experience as an executive and his thought process during the 2018 offseason showed.
Pelinka was hired due to his connection with Kobe Bryant. As a general manager, he had no experience for this job. He was an agent prior to many high profile players but also had many unethical handlings. Due to the fact that he was an agent, many general managers were already unwilling to work with him due to how difficult that task was.
Kurt Rambis has largely been a failure when he wasn’t riding the curtails of Phil Jackson. As a head coach, he has a 32-132 record in Minnesota and tried to make Kristaps Porzingis a small forward during his time in New York. It’s now been reported that even before Walton’s dismissal, the front office wanted Rambis on the coaching staff. He isn’t qualified to be part of this organization in any means, and somehow he has even more power today. Rambis is just in this position because he maintained a good relationship with the Lakers.
Since signing LeBron in July, they’ve done virtually nothing correct.
The Lakers need to abandon the Laker way.
And if they want to keep it in-house? They have some good basketball people here. Jesse and Joey Buss, and Ryan West have shown their chops in the few areas where the Lakers have been successful. Those are people that should be making these decisions.
But if Jeanie wants to keep deferring to Rambis or Pelinka, she’s going to continue to face the blame until something drastic happens.