By Chris Rodriguez
This season for the Los Angeles Lakers has been one big roller coaster but does that mean the team is imploding?
It all started a few weeks ago when Lakers’ center, Andrew Bogut, let out internal information regarding his teammates. He pointed out that they were unhappy regarding trade rumors and offseason free agency plans of the organization. Players felt they had to constantly be looking over their shoulder and were uncertain about their future with the team.
About a week after Bogut made that comment, the L.A. called a team meeting to ‘air out’ their grievances with the coaching staff and front office. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson were two players mentioned, specifically, and they talked about their frustrations. Since then, nothing has really changed and things seem to have actually taken a turn for the worse.
Recently, Clarkson has asked to be traded due to his frustration and lack of playing time even though he started off the season leading all sixth men in scoring. In his 4th season, this was looking like it was going to be his best statistical year so far.
If you look up and down the Lakers’ bench during the games, there doesn’t seem to be any happiness or joy coming from the players and, frankly, the coaches. Everyone seems to be walking on eggshells. Randle seems to be the most animated about his ongoing frustrations despite having a great season so far. Rumors were he wasn’t starting due to his qualifying offer for next season that would be more money if he started nine games this year. Now, Luke Walton has been brought into the mix following LaVar Ball’s recent comments.
If you’ve been living under a rock, LaVar said that Walton has lost the team and that the players don’t enjoy playing for him. Lonzo Ball had multiple opportunities to show his support for Walton but when asked questions about his father’s comments. Lonzo proceeded to answer those questions with “I’ll play for any coach”. Not only is that NOT an endorsement from the Lakers’ No.2 pick but the Lakers’ front office hasn’t done anything to show support or stand behind Walton either.
Head of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, and Lakers GM, Rob Pelinka did not hire Walton so he’s not their guy. Many have speculated that Magic and Pelinka not speaking up is an indicator that change is coming. Former Memphis Grizzlies coach, David Fizdale has been rumored to be a candidate as the Lakers head coach, who also happens to be extremely close with Lebron James, which was earlier reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. If Fizdale is hired, there’s a good chance that Lebron is coming.
If Luke gets fired this way, it will look like LaVar made the call and that he’s running things to a certain degree. This is a nightmare scenario because many elite players in the NBA, including Lebron, have voiced their opinion and criticism on LaVar. LaVar will ultimately be a deterrent to big-name free agents, which can cause the Lakers to consider the option of trading Ball to get away from this circus that’s been created.
L.A. hasn’t handled things well this season.
From off-the-court issues to on-the-court strategy and player rotations during games. A rhythm has been missing and every other day a new issue or problem arises. Half the season has been played but at this point, it feels like it’s been a few years.
There’s no telling how much longer this soap opera will carry on or if they’ll be able to make it back to glory.