Could you imagine the Lakers as a planet during the 2017-2018 season. A young vibrant place with blooming flowers and pretty scenery. The inhabitants are young and naive, full of potential to become great warriors under their young leaders.
Now imagine an old magical wizard using his powers to lure a super nova comet to the planet. The nova brings power beyond the inhabitants dreams and starts to forge an army worthy of battle versus anybody.
Unfortunately, the powerful super nova is in dire need of more power. He and the wizard starts to use the the people as sacrifices to lure more comets to the planet but alas, the trick hasn’t worked.
What is the old wizard to do now and has the comet damaged that planet beyond repair?
The Lakers season might not be as epic but the failure seems like something out of a story book. Insane looking offers to the New Orleans Pelicans for all-star big man Anthony Davis at the trade deadline failed, leaving the team with a ton of hurt feelings. Los Angeles (in their attempts to get another star) showed their hand and now they have to pick up the pieces.
Magic Johnson, President of Basketball Operation, has abandoned ship after stepping down hours before the Lakers game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Reports of clashing with head coach Luke Walton and general manager Rob Pelinka might not have been overblown.
Johnson probably had designs on firing one if not both of those guys with the sole purpose of saving face. Johnson’s departure after he brought all this on the Lakers seems a bit wrong, in any event there’s a big hole to climb out of.
The abandon ship theme would continue a couple days later when Walton and the team mutually agreed to part ways. Was he fired or did he simply walk away? Nobody knows the answer but Walton didn’t stay unemployed for long either, quickly signing a deal to become the Sacramento Kings head coach.
Now the Lakers will have to face him in division and he could give them a constant reminder of a good coach they let get away. Now the young players on the Kings will get a chance to progress, much like the younger Lakers players were doing last season under Walton.
With the team president and head coach gone, who is left to lead this team? James would have to mend some fences and rebuild some bridges in the locker room.
Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram especially have to wonder what LeBron James is really thinking about when it comes to their roles going forward. If Johnson was willing to get rid of both of them in one move, they have to feel some kind of doubt in the back of their minds.
That little bit of doubt is detrimental to a young players development, and thoughts of inadequacy can creep into a mind especially at the end of games.
There’s no telling now what the future holds with this team. James was shut down to end the season, Lonzo Ball played sparingly this season due to an ankle injury and Ingram has been diagnosed with a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis that could complicate his playing career overall, coupled with the fact that every free agent you brought in is near or over the age of 30.
Then there’s Kuzma, the Lakers second best scorer and probably second best player behind James.
What should he think of his future going into the off-season? The second-year forward is averaging 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Can he live up to being one of the bigger pieces of a championship team or will he just be another piece of a big trade?
James is definitely living out the twilight days of his career and that’s very hard to imagine, considering his numbers on the season. 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game would be great for most players but the numbers aren’t the whole story.
James has played in a career low 55 games and he will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 04-05 season. He simply can’t “will” a team to victories anymore and his age is starting to show.
Colorful metaphors aside, the team will need a magician this off-season if the Lakers are to have any success in 2020. General manager Rob Pelinka should realize by now that he’s gonna need a superstar that is far younger than James, one that can carry the team when James is out of the lineup.
Maybe that player is on the roster and just needs the motivation to blossom into a star. Maybe he can snag that player in free agency or at least pull off the deal (this time) for another star that Magic couldn’t.
Whatever the case it may be, Pelinka is the last line of defense versus another mediocre season.
So there you have it, a rag tag group of injured players, aging veterans and a superstar on the downside of his career that is going nowhere.
The post season has begun and you won’t see James, Kuzma, Ball, Ingram or the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers. Team owner Jeanie Buss can only hope this is an aberration and not the beginning of something far worse to come.