NBA fans: How dire is the Lakers situation?

HawkeyesAndCubs1023

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After a loss at home to the hapless Indiana Pacers last night, the Los Angeles Lakers are now 22-23. While they are projected to get Anthony Davis back next week, they have apparently played the very easy portion of their schedule. 538 currently projects them to finish 37-45, which will have them in the "play-in" portion of the Playoffs.

There are some who think that because they have LeBron (no longer the best player in the game, but still amazingly elite at his age and mileage) and Anthony Davis, that they can simply "turn it on" for the playoffs and contend. But these people clearly have not watched the team this year.

Rob Pelinka should be fired immediately for trading Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is an overrated/empty stats guy who is on the wrong side of the aging curve, and who wouldn't have been a great fit next to LeBron even in his prime. When Pelinka traded away these two (and let Alex Caruso go), they lost their youthful assets who could defend.

The roster is filled with washed-up vets (Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Deandre Jordan), friends of LeBron who are always washed up (Carmelo Anthony), cast-offs from other organizations (Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington) and young guys who are nothing more than bit players if this were a good team (Horton-Tucker and Reaves).

What's worse is, they have zero draft capital, no young assets that can net them anything meaningful in a trade, and next year, they will pay LeBron/Davis/Westbrook a whopping $129M.

This brings us to a big issue: LeBron. I will not speak ill of his game at all -- he's a top 3 player of all time, and his career longevity is insane. HOWEVER, as we have seen now for awhile, there is a pattern when LeBron is allowed influence into front office decisions:

  • LeBron arrives (Miami, back to Cleveland, Lakers)
  • Team wins a title (two in Miami)
  • Team continues to sign aging vets who are either personal friends of LeBron, or guys he trusts
  • Team trades away young assets and draft picks
  • Team is no longer a contender at the end of LeBron's tenure
  • LeBron leaves organization with aging roster, no young assets (he famously does not like playing with young players), and little draft capital
According to reports, the Lakers were set to acquire Buddy Hield, a 3-point specialist who is much less expensive than Westbrook, but LeBron made it known that he preferred Westbrook. The rest is history.

Am I too fatalistic here? Is there hope for the Lakers?

It would not be surprising to see LeBron (if he desires to play until he is 40 and beyond) leave LA to find a more desirable basketball situation when his contract is fulfilled.
 

cfbfan23

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