In what is turning out to be another torrid season for the Los Angeles Lakers, they find themselves 13th in the Western Conference, with little hope of qualifying for the post-season without the need for the play-in tournament.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers are exactly where they should be given their roster flaws, and it’s understandable why Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka are reluctant to trade away their future for a team with no clear path to an NBA championship.
“This is what happens to bad teams. You are five games below, six games below, whatever they are under .500, because you can’t handle your business at the end of games. Because Russ runs into traffic, and this is why LeBron is screaming about the calls…When you’re screaming about the officiating, it’s because you need everything…I don’t blame Rob Pelinka…I don’t blame Jeanie Buss either, if they’re not trying to cut into the future to try and get this team into the play-in tournament,” Windhorst said.
Lakers fans will be hoping the front office finds a way to improve the current rotation without giving up either of their 2027 or 2029 first-round draft picks before the trade deadline slams shut on February 9.
Kendrick Perkins Believes Lakers Are ‘Punishing’ LeBron
According to Kendrick Perkins, who was speaking on a January 19 episode of ESPN’S NBA Today, there is a chance the Lakers are punishing LeBron James with their reluctance to move on from their prized draft assets following the influence he wielded during their pursuit of Russell Westbrook.
“It almost feels like, in my opinion, that Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss is punishing LeBron for the Russell Westbrook trade, meaning, ‘You played a huge part in getting Russell Westbrook here, and we know we have these two draft picks and we’re not going to trade them because you wanted him. You wanted him, Bron. So now you have to deal with it. You made your bed, you have to lay in it,’” Perkins said.
LeBron, 38, has been exceptional for the Lakers this season, averaging 29.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7 assists per game while shooting 50.9% from the field, 29% from the perimeter, and 76.4% from the free throw line. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that LeBron needs additional help in order to bring another championship back to Los Angeles.
Jeanie Buss Could Instruct Lakers To Wait Until Summer
During a recent conversation between a Western Conference executive and Heavy On Sports Sean Deveney, which took place under the condition of anonymity, there is a growing belief around the league that Jeanie Buss would prefer the Lakers to do their business during the off-season.
“They have come this far without trading the two picks (in 2027 and 2029) away, and it is going to be very hard to move Westbrook without putting one of those picks into the deal. You’ve got a lot of the organization saying, ‘We should trade picks and win now,’ but some in the organization are saying, ‘Do not sell out the future.’ And Jeanie Buss is with the second group, and that is what matters most,” The executive said.
The Lakers are set to face the Memphis Grizzlies on January 20, and will be hoping to add another win to their season total as they continue to chase an opportunity to make a post-season appearance.