The Los Angeles Lakers may be at their lowest point of the season. The team is coming off a win over the four-seed Utah Jazz but that’s not the biggest story to come from the game. Anthony Davis sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated in a month. With the superstar getting hurt, it emphasizes again how poorly this Lakers roster was constructed in the offseason.
In his first two seasons in charge of the team’s roster, current vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka did an excellent job. Los Angeles won a championship in the first season after Pelinka got personnel control from Magic Johnson. The Lakers would’ve been in the title mix again in the following season had LeBron James and Davis not dealt with injuries all season.
This season has been a different story. Even when the Lakers have been healthy, they haven’t looked great. The team is 27-31 and the ninth seed in the Western Conference. Due to the poor roster construction, many have blamed LeBron and Davis for pushing for the Russell Westbrook trade. However, former LeBron and Westbrook teammate Kendrick Perkins isn’t buying it. He blasted Pelinka for letting his players dictate personnel decisions.
“I’m gonna point the finger at Rob Pelinka,” Perkins said on ESPN’s First Take. “That’s who’s gonna look the worst. One, is because instead of doing his job and manning the hell up, he allowed the players — meaning AD and LeBron James — to dictate this roster in the first place. And then here comes the trade deadline, and you make no moves at all? You stand still and tell the world, ‘We’re just going to wait for the buyout market.’ There’s no damn buyout market. All the groceries are gone.”
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Many People to Blame for Lakers’ Struggles
At the end of the day, there’s no one person who’s at fault for this Lakers season. LeBron and Davis deserve blame for pushing for Westbrook when everybody knew he wasn’t going to be a good fit. Westbrook deserves blame for simply not playing well. Head coach Frank Vogel deserves blame for not being quicker to make rotation adjustments.
There’s also plenty of blame in the front office. Owner Jeanie Buss and her closest confidants in Linda and Kurt Rambis are known to meddle despite not having any reason to believe the three of them know how to construct a good basketball team. And of course, Pelinka deserves his fair share of the blame. As Perkins noted, he’s the man in charge of the roster and how it’s constructed. If he needs to push back on ownership or his star players, he has to do it.
Can Lakers Find a Difference-Maker on Buyout Market?
Another important part of Perkins’ comments is regarding the buyout market. In recent years, fans can get really excited about the buyout market. Last season, the Lakers were able to land Andre Drummond after he was bought out from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many people were up in arms that the Lakers were able to stack the deck towards the end of the season.
In the end, he had little impact on the team and was benched in the playoffs. Perkins is right about the fact that the buyout market is overrated. Goran Dragic isn’t going to fix this team. Plus, it’s not very appealing to be a Laker right now. Typically, players on the buyout market like to go to contenders. If Davis’ injury keeps him out for the rest of the season, the Lakers aren’t contenders. In fact, they likely aren’t even if he comes back.