Another summer of free agency has come upon us and it seems that fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are seeing the same results as last off-season. Big name free agents are still not looking to come to the Lakers. While the Atlanta Hawks land players like Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic land players like Bismack Biyombo, the Lakers had to desperately throw an absurd amount of money at mediocre players like Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng.
There’s been every excuse in the book thrown at Lakers fans. First it was not all free agents are looking to go to big market teams anymore. Well that’s not the case because the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics are landing free agents just fine this off-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers Free Agency Struggles
Then there was the excuse that the Lakers were an old team and needed to get younger. That’s no longer the case; the last three drafts we saw the Lakers fill needed holes with NBA-caliber talent through the draft. The Lakers added Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram via the draft. So youth is not a problem anymore for them; that excuse is out the window.
The Lakers had the problem of not having a good coach to handle the team. Well now that’s not true this off-season. The Lakers hired former Laker, Luke Walton, who was an assistant with the record-setting Golden State Warriors. So he knows a thing or two about winning. He is also surrounding himself with quality assistants, most notably Brian Shaw, who has been a head coach already and is also a former Laker.
The Kobe Bryant Factor
Then we had my favorite excuse: nobody wants to play with Kobe Bryant. Yes, people used this as an excuse, even though many stars such as LaMarcus Aldridge stated that that wasn’t the case last year when he chose the San Antonio Spurs over the Lakers. Not just him either, it was clear that players had no problem playing with Bryant, there was just something else not drawing them to the Lakers. But, for journalistic purposes let’s just hypothetically say that this was the case, that players did not want to play with Kobe Bryant. Well the Black Mamba has bowed out with no possible case of returning, so that was no excuse this off-season.
So to me there’s one common denominator that’s not bringing big time free agents to the Lakers. It has to be Jim Buss, who has been criticized many times before. He appears to be dragging the Lakers down, and no one in the Lakers brass appears to recognize that. His approach to try to land free agents is not working, and he still hasn’t changed his ways. Guys like Kevin Durant didn’t even want to take a meeting with the Lakers this year; does that not scream red flag? Jeanie Buss, I know that’s your brother, but he’s clearly taking the Lakers in the wrong direction. If this continues, the Lakers will be a perennial bottom-of-the-barrel team and won’t land any free agents whatsoever. And you might see your fan base diminish a little bit. After all, Lakers fans are used to winning; they can’t bare to see our franchise go down the tubes.