The Los Angeles Lakers have missed the NBA playoffs for four consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Prior to their current run of futility, the team had only missed the playoffs two years in a row one time, all the way back in the 1970s.
All the losing has resulted in the lottery picks necessary to draft a promising core of young players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and more.
But the failure to even compete for the postseason or have success wooing major free agents ultimately cost former executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak their jobs.
Lakers President Jeanie Buss was the one to make those sweeping changes and bring in Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to replace the former regime, and it turns out her decisiveness in dealing with all of that tumult at the top was at least in part inspired by some wisdom from former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“I found myself leaning on another person that I watched grow up, Kobe Bryant,” Buss said. “He said, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it clearly, decisively, be strategic, have a plan. And he’s absolutely right. He was a big support, and he continues to be a support.”
Bryant is one of the most successful players and businessmen in NBA history, so it makes sense that the latter quality would lead to Jeanie going to him for advice during a rough patch for the franchise.
It seems like the Lakers are now following his advice, too. The merits of the team’s plan can and will be debated for years to come as it begins to bear results, but the franchise undoubtedly has one and is sticking with it. The Lakers want to develop their young players while maximizing cap space in an attempt to draw big name free agents next summer, and the team is on track to do so. It remains to be seen how it works out, but the Lakers definitely have a direction now.