The Los Angeles Lakers have a long and rich history of winning as one of the NBA’s glamor franchises. They have long been one of the most popular teams in the league and have seen a who’s who of NBA superstars wear their jersey.
But recent years have lacked the success that the franchise has enjoyed in the past. The Lakers have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and following the death of longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss in 2013, some questioned whether the team was headed in the right direction. B
uss’ children inherited control of the franchise, but daughter Jeanie, who handled the business side of things, and son Jim, who ran the basketball side, weren’t on the same page. The Lakers struggled for years to bring in top free agents to sit on the throne being vacated by Kobe Bryant, leaving the team without an heir-apparent.
Bryant’s former agent and current Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka explained his belief that the problem was the Lakers too heavily relied on their history, per Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“I think there became a comfort in the banners,” Pelinka concluded. “No one saw the progress, the pioneering of new things, which is what we used to be known for. No one was saying, ‘We want to do what the Lakers are doing.’ It was the opposite. It was, ‘No one wants to go there anymore.’
With the Lakers no longer being seen as innovators they struggled to land new talent. Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss finally forked over massive deals to Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng after failing to land the best of the best, but the moves would be their undoing as Buss and Kupchak were replaced by Pelinka and Magic Johnson.
Now, with Jeanie assuming full control, the team under Pelinka’s and Magic Johnson’s watch and with a young head coach in Luke Walton at the helm, the Lakers are reshaping their image.
They have a young core to build around featuring Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma, as well as plenty of cap space for Johnson and Pelinka to attempt to succeed where Buss and Kupchak failed: by luring a top free agent (or two) to Los Angeles.
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