How Long Will Laker Fans Accept This Rebuilding Plan?
October 1, 2015
By Mitch Chortkoff
At the start of another Laker season General Manager Mitch Kupchak told the media last week this would be a season of laying a foundation.
“Every season the Lakers have hopes of winning a championship,” Kupchak began. “But realistacly we’re developing DeAngelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson this season. Then, hopefully we’ll add free agents next season.”
The plan is to build up to being a championship contender. But when?
Kupchak’s speech was honest and would be applauded if conditions were different. For instance if the Lakers were coming off one bad season out of character for a franchise which has won 16 NBA championships.
But their decline has been much worse than one season. They haven’t won a championship – in fact not a single playoff game in three years. They were swept by San Antonio, then they didn’t qualify for the playoffs the next two years.
So my question is this. How long will fans – most particularly season ticket holders --put up with this rebuilding?
The decline began when Jim Buss took over from his father, Jerry Buss, who is considered one of the best owners in NBA history.
Owners seldom blame themselves for a team’s failure, so the logical candidates to lose their jobs if this is another dismal season would be either Kupchak or Coach Byron Scott.
At the many games I attend I often look closely at the upper deck to search for empty seats. I rarely see any. Fans have remained loyal and there’s been very little booing.
But will fans stand another year or two of rebuilding? Will they reason that rebuilding should have started a few years ago and should be further along by now?
I expect sellouts this season as fans want to ee Kobe Bryant in what is expected to be his final season with the Lakers.
Hopefully he won’t have his season cut short by an injury as has been the case the last three years.
If he can’t play, what would the attendance be?
The Lakers have been busy in the off season. They
assigned Russell a locker next to Bryant. The rookie asked for it, hoping the veteran would give him frequent tips.
“I won’t have to walk across the room to ask him something,” he said.
In addition, the Lakers hired James Worthy, their former great forward and current Laker TV analyst, to work with Randle, who played only 14 minutes of his rookie season before being injured.
And they made several front office changes.
So they haven’t been idle but they couldn’t sign any of the free agents they targeted and have had to fill out the roster with players not in the star category.
I see them as an improvement over last season when they won only 21 games but not a playoff team.
Initial forecasts rate defending champion Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and the Clippers as the most likely teams to succeed.
One off-season change was not favorable to the Lakers. Steve Nash, who completed his playing career with them, has been hired by Golden State as a consultant.