The Los Angeles Lakers season has been well-scrutinized and labeled as a failure. As the season winds down and officially closes, tidbits from the offseason prior will likely rear their heads. That is already starting, as it was reported today by Bill Oram of The Athletic that Lakers team President Magic Johnson rejected pleas from the coaching staff to re-sign forward Julius Randle and center Brook Lopez. Instead, those signings turned into questionable players like Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
Oram’s specific anecdote:
After delivering James in July, Johnson ignored the pleas of the coaching staff that he retain Brook Lopez and Julius Randle. Instead, he signed controversial and limited journeymen JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson.
It seems that Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka outsmarted themselves. The team tried too hard to do things opposite of LeBron’s former team the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead of focusing on surrounding James with shooting, which had been the primary structure since his Miami days, the Lakers focused on playmaking. In fairness, James had previously complained that the Cavaliers did not have enough playmakers.
Meanwhile, Lopez is a fixture on the best team in the league in Milwaukee after signing there very cheaply in the offseason. Julius Randle is having a fine season for the New Orleans Pelicans too. They would have made fine ancillary pieces on the Lakers, certainly, but are not the only reason for the disappointing season in Los Angeles. But this lack of listening from Magic Johnson may be a precursor for offseasons to come.