Earlier this week, we asked you, the readers of this site and members of this community of Lakers fans, whether or not supporters of this team should still have faith in the organization’s ownership and front office.
The answer, based on our latest SB Nation Reacts poll data, was mostly an overwhelming and resounding “no.”
That is a stunning fall from grace for a group that built a title team less than two full seasons ago, but it’s also not hard to see why many feel that way. Not only has the team’s brain trust of Rob Pelinka, Kurt Rambis, Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis built an incredibly flawed roster that is close to the end of an almost astoundingly frustrating season, but all signs point to none of those four facing much of any internal accountability for it.
There is also the matter that this group — the Rambii especially — has become a national laughing stock even in fairly mainstream media. Like, take the following exchange from Bill Simmons and NBA insider Zach Lowe of ESPN on the latest episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast” (around the 36-minute mark, while talking about the team’s lack of moves at the deadline):
Simmons: “I hate defending Pelinka and Buss and all these people because I certainly don’t really feel like they know what they’re doing either. The fact that Kurt Rambis is involved is hilarious, but I don’t know what else you can do at this point. You don’t have any assets. We’re talking about their 2027 first-round pick. It’s five years from now! That’s their only asset.”
Lowe: “I do enjoy all the stories that come out about like, ‘uh oh, sources say Kurt Rambis was at the coaches meeting today.’ ... Like, Kurt Rambis? Can you imagine being on that coaching staff, and you’re discussing strategy, and Kurt Rambis comes in the room? Career head coaching record of whatever it is*...
(*Editor’s Note: It is 65-164, mainly due to Rambis going 32-132 with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being fired with the second-worst winning percentage (.195) in the history of maybe the least successful NBA franchise ever.)
Simmons: “Kurt Rambis, who played Ryan Gomes more minutes than Kevin Love in 2010. I looked it up. That’s a thing you can look up on Basketball-Reference.”
Lowe: “What does he say? ‘I’m just gonna sit in here, guys, just want to see what you’re up to. Just pretend I’m not here...”
Simmons: (laughs hysterically)
Lowe: “‘...I’m just a fly on the wall. I’m just sitting in. No, it’s totally normal. I’m just sitting in. I’m just trying to get my hands on every part of the team here. Just checking in.’”
Simmons: “‘I’m just married to the owner’s best friend. I’m just here. Don’t look at me. I’m just over here somewhere.’”
That kind of league-wide reputation — and, you know, the roster put together this year by said power players — is probably at least part of the reason why LeBron James has seemed so intent on deflecting as much blame as possible for this mess towards Pelinka in particular over the last week.
However, the Lakers fans we polled aren’t letting him off the hook, either, with a majority of fans responding that James isn’t justified in being upset with the same front office that only 29% of them say they have faith in.
Some of that juxtaposition is likely due to the hand James had in building the roster he’s so unsatisfied with, but some of it also probably just a natural reaction to how much passive aggressive criticism James has lobbed at the team over the last week.
Both factors might be why even more fans are open to considering a James trade, something that Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times argued for in a column this week:
Does that seem premature? Yes. But also, like, if James eventually asks for a trade or agitates to get out — which, to be clear, is not fully happening yet, despite his bluster — eventually the team will have to consider it.
And so, with all that chaos going on, it’s also hardly surprising that NBA fans at large don’t really think the Lakers are getting out of the play-in tournament:
I still maintain the Lakers have a pretty good shot to beat any of the flotsam and jetsam that joins them in the play-in and at least make it to the first-round if they get any semblance of health, but with that said... the way this season has gone, the team losing in a single-elimination play-in game would hardly be shocking. After all, to quote the great philosopher Michelle Jones Watson, “if you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”
Maybe, given this season and these poll results, that’s a mindset we’re all better off adopting moving forward.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.