Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers shocked the world not only by signing LeBron James, but by surrounding him with the weirdest supporting cast he has ever played with. He’s already given an interesting take on the experiment of moving him off the ball, and apparently he wasn’t the only one in the organization wondering what the hell was going on.
On Tuesday morning, Baxter Holmes of ESPN detailed all the turmoil within Lakers walls over the course of the last year. It’s wild, and you should read it. But one of the lighter moments in the piece was two Lakers staffers’ reactions to the signings of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley:
“We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f--- are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member told ESPN. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket case left on the market.”
”We were all confused,” a front office staffer said. “All of it made no sense.”
Of course they were confused. We were all confused that the Lakers somehow decided to reinvent the wheel and surround James with weirdos who couldn’t stretch the floor.
And sure, some will point to Stephenson and Rondo’s shooting percentages from deep, but even that is missing the point. While both those guys technically shot the ball well, no team was going to design their defense around making sure they didn’t shoot. Just about every coach in the league would take a possession that ended in a Rondo pull-up three-pointer, and that just allowed them to stack their defense more heavily against James.
It was also wild to hear Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka talk about the personalities of the veterans they signed in ways that didn’t hint at impending doom. At various points in the season every single veteran the Lakers employed either appeared apathetic or just outright sucked. But hey, Johnson had to trade D’Angelo Russell because of his immaturity, or something.
Fortunately for everyone, Johnson has since departed for the greener pastures on Twitter.com. But Pelinka is still around, and has yet to answer for the travesty that was the roster he helped put together last year. No one from the organization has really spoken on the damn near unmitigated disaster that was last season. Poor Frank Vogel had his introductory press conference turn into a farce for this very reason.
Maybe the Lakers learned from their mistakes. Maybe Pelinka was just hamstrung by Johnson all season. Maybe everyone involved is ready to move forward with the knowledge gained by the immense amounts of egg on their face. But there’s no way to know that seeing as they’ve yet to speak about last year. We just kind of have to hope they recognize how ill-fated their experiment was from the jump, and will never try such a thing again.
We know at least two people at this point who wondered what was going on, it’s just unfortunate that — given that they couldn’t stop it the first time — neither of those people appear willing or able to make decisions to ensure this won’t happen again.