The past few offseasons have borne out some harsh truths about the Lakers front office. The lead team of decision-makers seems to have priorities that are not conducive to sustainable NBA success: a reliance on people familiar to the owner, catering to stars over anything else, an indifference to role players, and winning the press conference at the expense of making sound basketball decisions.
Their fellow tenants at Crypto.com Arena, the Los Angeles Sparks, have been subject to some similar foibles in recent years. A pattern of poor decision-making blew up in the team’s face this week, as star free-agent signing Liz Cambage decided to walk away from the Sparks in the middle of their playoff chase.
Even for Lakers fans who don’t know follow the Sparks, or the WNBA at large, the comedy of errors that led to Cambage flaming out in Los Angeles are familiar. A top front-office executive chosen without a real search process, promoted into an even higher position due to a power vacuum, who then makes a splashy acquisition for a star to save face after a rough season. Said star only wants to play their way and complains when they’re used differently, leading to locker room tension and a poor record. It’s a specific story to Cambage, sure, but not that specific.
Neither the Lakers nor the Sparks organizations have espoused best practices recently, and there’s a lot to dissect in how these franchises have wasted the gifts of playing in Los Angeles to end up in their precarious situations.
On this week’s episode of “I Love Basketball”, your hosts Sabreena Merchant and Anthony Irwin — who love breaking down the process of the Lakers front office — applied that same eye to the Sparks, including what the WNBA team’s decisions illuminate about the Lakers. Even though the teams are under two separate ownership groups, there’s a lot of connective tissue between them.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.