May. 02, 2018
Searching For Magic?
Three seasons deep into a downward spiral, almost one year removed from the retirement of one the greatest to ever play the game and coming off two of the worst season records in franchise history--the lack of an identity in Laker Land has never been more prevalent. Understandably, former Los Angeles Lakers GM Jim Buss felt pressure to provide Kobe Bryant with the best teammates possible. The Lakers repeatedly refused to trade players with expiring contracts for draft picks during the NBA trade deadline. Even during some of the worst Lakers’ seasons in history, they still displayed a win now mentality.
This past off-season a lot has happened. Kobe has left, Byron Scott has left, and the franchise has plenty to do. One would assume that the Lakers would be free to really start rebuilding the franchise with Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and a second overall pick in the NBA draft. The first addition was coach Luke Walton, who I see as a great pick-up and is coming off a very successful season subbing in for Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors as Kerr recovered from back surgery. Hopefully, they have secured the coach of the future. However, that one step forward was quickly followed by two giant long-term contracts backwards in the signing of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. For some reason the Lakers just refused to go into full-blown rebuild mode. Follow that with the addition of Jose Calderon and it appears the Lakers front office was attempting to add veteran role players to get them over the hump. These short-sighted moves quickly turned into long-term problems in Los Angeles.
The lust to compete every season and a win-now culture in the Lakers front office led them to search for different leadership as a new direction was necessary for one of the largest sport franchises on the plant. This search led us to former Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who is fresh off a successful season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and part owner of the up and coming MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club. It would be foolish to question Magic’s love for competition and the city of Los Angeles. During his time working at ESPN as a NBA analyst, Magic has been vocal about his opinion of how the Lakers got to this desolate place, never shy about questioning a short-term move when the team should be thinking big picture.
The work Magic has done in a couple weeks is truly incredible; he did what no one dared. He gave the Los Angeles Lakers the identity of a true rebuilding franchise. By essentially making half of the roster available during the NBA trade deadline, Magic was willing to do what those before him were not. He left many life-long Lakers fans confused and arguing amongst themselves about the DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins trade. Some, including myself, wanted the trade, not fully onboard the S.S. Rebuild that Magic had docked at the port. With Magic as Captain and clearly at the wheel, the S.S. Rebuild quickly left port and the Los Angeles Lakers made several deals. They added another first round pick for the 2017 draft in exchange for “Uncle Lou” Williams. Magic then sounded the horn again a few days later when he made another trade with the Houston Rockets and moved bench warmer Marcelo Huertas for Tyler Ennis. It appears Magic has already established a mutually beneficial relationship with Rockets GM Daryl Morey. His last move was throwing previously mentioned Jose Calderon off the ship in order to emphasis youth and free up playing time for the young core of the team. Something his predecessor would have never done.
Magic has given the Los Angeles Lakers what they desperately needed, a leader brave enough to tell Lakers Nation that the future is more important than the present. The team has too many holes to be a Boogie Cousins away from a championship. Building through youth is the most realistic option. Magic will most likely be rebuilding for the next two off-seasons and then we can expect to see a team with a young core built up and ready to contend. Lakers Nation, now is the time to support the rebuild and take some pressure off the young guys. Put trust in Magic and know that at the end of the storm is a golden sky and the Lakers will make it into port with more than just a big catch.