Culver City Observer -

ANATOMY OF A DISASTER -- Part 4

2016 – The Worst Record In Laker History How About Bringing Back Jerry West?

 

April 28, 2016



When I wrote Anatomy Of A Disaster four years ago I had no intention of repeating it the next season. But readers were so fed up with the Lakers’ demise they requested it.

Then we had last season, 21 wins and 61 losses, the worst record in the franchise’s history.

And now this. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse it did. The Lakers lost for the 62nd time last week, climaxing their worst season in the franchise’s 68-year existence. It was also their 11th straight loss to the Clippers over the last three years.

Before reviewing the Lakers’ faults in the just completed season I’ll ask you readers a question.

How are the Lakers going to sign quality free agents this summer with players knowing the team is coming off another horrible season and have an immature young point guard?

DeAngelo Russell had an alarmingly low number of assists in his rookie season. Now that he’s been booed by the home crowd for secretly taping a private conversation with teammate Nick Young trust among his teammates has dwindled.

If you’re a star free agent who can sign with any team why would you choose the Lakers who have so many internal problems? If you’re a good scorer why would you join a team that has a point guard who prefers shooting to passing?

Truthfully, Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour turned into a fiasco. The idea of celebrating his 20 years as a Laker seemed like a good idea. But surrounding him with a roster devoid of major players combined with Bryant’s many injuries led to chaos.

If the Lakers hadn’t chased away Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol or both they would have been likely to add other high caliber free agents.

But new owner Jim Buss or General Manager Mitch Kupchak or both didn’t make sure the 37-year-old Bryant would have enough quality help.

Bryant wanted to say farewell in every city and it was heartwarming to hear fans cheering him everywhere.

But the losses became ugly (by 48 points one night to Utah) and the Lakers became worse than every NBA team expect the Philadelphia 76ers.

Many fans have blamed Coach Byron Scott. But very few coaches, if any, could have succeeded with this roster.

It’s been four years since Jim Buss became the owner. We’ve heard very little from him. I can’t imagine Jerry Buss would have tolerated such a decline without doing something.

Over the last four years the Lakers have made drastic changes in their rosters, replacing a mediocre group with another mediocre group.

They’ve had some good players, Ed Davis, Jeremy Lin for example but quickly let them go. Davis just had a good season in Portland and Lin had a good season in Charlotte. Neither is a star but both would have been helpful to the Lakers this season.

Where do the Lakers go from here?

They might get a talented player in the upcoming draft but they couldn’t sign LaMarcus Aldridge last summer and that’s an example of where they stand with elite free agents. Elite free agents want to play for a championship contender instead of one of the NBA’s worst teams.

The question is asked “who will be the next Kobe?” The answer is the Lakers have no idea if and when there will be one.

Is it time for Jim Buss to step aside? Is it time for a big name ex-Laker, Jerry West for example, to head the front office and convince free agents they can bring back the team’s glory?

West spent his entire magnificent 14-year playing career with the Lakers. When he became the team’s general manager beginning in 1982 the Lakers proceeded to win six NBA championships.

Today at 77 he’s had a lot to do with the Golden State Warriors becoming NBA champions and he’s still regarded as one of the best talent evaluators in NBA history.

West still lives in Los Angeles and probably would welcome an opportunity to revive the Lakers. But they’d have to ask, and they might not want to do that.

Bringing back West is something to consider. Seriously consider.

“The Lakers need free agents,” longtime broadcaster Stu Lantz told me. “Expecting to make a major jump in the standings primarily through the draft isn’t realistic.”

What is realistic? The Lakers may continue their demise. And there won’t be a Kobe to keep fans interested next season so they’d better think of something.

 

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