LeBron James’s first campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers has been an unmitigated disaster. Now that the team has nothing left to do but pack it in and wait for next season to start, it’s time for those within the organization to start assigning some blame in an effort to save their own skin.
The Athletic’s Bill Oram has a story that outlines a front-office schism between owner Jeanie Buss and GM Magic Johnson. The former is a backer of head coach Luke Walton, whereas the latter has less faith in Walton and even went so far as to ignore his wishes while signing free agents last summer. From the story:
While Buss has been an ardent backer of Walton, she has also empowered Johnson, who has been less resolute in his support. His efforts have all worked against his coach rather than with him. After delivering James in July, Johnson ignored the pleas of the coaching staff that he retain Brook Lopez and Julius Randle. Instead, he signed controversial and limited journeymen JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson.
It’s highly unlikely that the Lakers will make it through the spring and summer without someone taking the fall for this dog-crap season. Buss isn’t going anywhere, LeBron isn’t going anywhere, and Magic almost certainly isn’t going anywhere. That leaves Walton as the most likely patsy, which puts him and those within the organization who are sympathetic to him needing to pile as much blame as possible on Magic. Leaks about how badly Walton wanted to keep Julius Randle and Brook Lopez probably won’t be enough to save him in the end, but at least they will give him the opportunity to claim that the huge mess he’ll inevitably leave behind wasn’t of his making.