The Lakers’ early elimination might be embarrassing, but it’s what this organization needed after a miserable year

If the Los Angeles Lakers made any clear about the 2022 trade deadline, it was this: They don’t want to do what it takes to fix this. This season’s disaster, the two-year effort to destroy a champ, this decade of nepotism and the terrible basketball it has largely produced. It was none of these problems that Lakers management seemed interested in tackling. They were problems that the Lakers hoped to solve on their own.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said it best in February when she argued that her explanation for the team’s inaction “was that the Lakers organization, from ownership down, basically decided: ‘You get this.’ This is the bed I made. lebron [James]Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, all future Hall of Famers, this is your choice of roster and team, go and make it work. “

Well, they didn’t make it work. On Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns ended the Lakers season for the second year in a row. This time, they didn’t wait until the season was over. They knocked the Lakers out of the race for a poor playing position with nearly a week left in the regular season. The Lakers, the pre-season favorites in the Western Conference, couldn’t finish better than 11th in the final standings.

And their front office wasn’t willing to do anything about it. Their pick in the first round of 2027? Seems to be banned on the trade deadline. Rejoice, Lakers fans. This newbie will be a huge help to James when he arrives a few months before LeBron’s 43rd birthday. Adding extra luxury tax dollars to an already bloated payroll turns out to be unthinkable. You can’t ask the Lakers with an estimated $3 billion in domestic TV deal to spend more than the Bucks big market. Their idea of ​​a solution was to add the acquisition of skilled 34-year-old DJ Augustin. He did not score a point in the season-ending loss to Phoenix.

This loss, in the end, may have been for the better. After all, those same Suns were waiting for the Lakers in the first round if they somehow managed to make their way into the playoffs. The Lakers had lost that streak and were going to lose it hard, but just getting there would have given this front office an excuse, a legend of momentum. Sure, their season could have ended the same way, but with enough oomph to justify more inaction. We’ve now seen where laxity is taking this team.

No, the Lakers needed to be embarrassed. They needed to finish the season in such a humiliating fashion that the power brokers in the franchise could no longer ignore how badly they let things go. Any notion that they could afford the same careless attitude that informed the deadline for their off-season trades should be erased here and now. There is no momentum here. There are no positives to build on. There is a fundamentally broken team that needs quick and decisive action from putative organizational leaders in order to repair it.

Maybe it means something different to you than it does to Jenny Boss. It is likely that all interested parties will recognize that a change in training is necessary. It seems unlikely that the front office that failed Frank Vogel will be held accountable similarly, but any room for supply it might have to slow the rebuilding process is dwindling. Buss fired her brother in 2017, and unlike who replaced him, his years in the lottery never included James. Bryant-led Rob Pelinka has now missed three of his four seasons in purple and gold. He has now missed the playoffs as many times in the past four years as he has in his first 15. It seems that he would prefer to end his career in Los Angeles. He used his All-Star Break to hint that he’s open to a move.

If he’s played in two of the team’s last three games, by any means given their lack of risk, there’s a good chance of winning the scoring title at age 37. Even after nearly two decades in the NBA, he’s still a viable pivot for the champ. Davis, when healthy, is a proven friend. These are the only two components on this list that will earn significant roles in the upcoming season.

The Westbrook experiment failed. So too is the list-building philosophy that his acquisition represented. The Lakers simply can’t stack the big names and hope their star power can outweigh the poor fit. James gets lost next to a guard who neither shoots nor defends. He and Davis can’t carry a list of 10 low-paid players. The entire scheme needs to be rewritten.

This was only going to happen from below. The Lakers never wanted to fix this. They don’t want to spend as many dollars or choices as it takes to give James and Davis another realistic chance to win a championship. Honestly, they probably still are. But if there’s anything that will motivate the Lakers to look in the mirror and reassess the way they do business, the playoffs will be missed. This season wasn’t just a fiasco. It was an embarrassment. It was positive evidence that the things this organization believed in were no longer winning basketball games. Things needed to get that bad. Now, there’s nowhere to go but hike.