Normally when a team with title aspirations falls apart in the second round of the playoffs in consecutive years all eyes shift towards the front office. While that will always hold true no matter the circumstances it is hard to find fault in what the Lakers tried to do to address their needs. Let’s not forget that for all of a couple of hours Mitch Kupchak had Chris Paul in a purple and gold jersey until David Stern stepped from behind the iron curtain and crushed the deal.
From the CP3 dilemma on down to the Derek Fisher deal, it was nothing but drama for the Lakers with every move that was made this season. But even before the season began there were warnings that the tide was changing in the Laker front office.
Jim Buss is now running the show as his iconic father slowly fades into the background. Jim’s first order of business was to leave his stamp on the franchise by moving quickly to hire Mike Brown while unceremoniously firing some long serving staffers without so much as a phone call.
Those same impersonal tactics weren’t limited to staff members though. Jim Buss took the same approach when it came to handling his players and coaches.
Nearly a month had gone by before Kobe Bryant commented on the Mike Brown hiring. It would later be revealed that Bryant’s silence had nothing to do with Brown and everything to do with the lack of communication during the hiring process. Brian Shaw was a candidate endorsed by the player to replace Phil Jackson but he too was sent packing in the most unthankful fashion. That same problem would later come to the forefront when Kupchak momentarily pulled of the Paul trade.
As we know the manner in which Lamar Odom was dealt ultimately doomed his season. L.O. never bounced back from the shock of learning he’d been traded by seeing a crawl on ESPN. Pau Gasol was also affected but he at least did the professional thing by showing up to do work. Now just how much trade rumors and his feeling of being wanted affected the work Gasol did this season is something reserved for his future tell-all book.
From the jump it was obvious that communication was problematic for Jim Buss. Going forward that is going to have to change.
You didn’t need any of Kobe’s moodiness in recent press conferences to know he’s anxious for changes to be made. Don’t be surprised if KB24 is much more vocal this offseason than last. Kobe’s window is closing and he’s not going to handle any more communication breakdowns with silence.
For the front office the real conundrum is just what approach will be taken. Is this franchise willing to make major moves to try for another title push before Kobe hangs them up or is it time to consider rebuilding? Is Buss going to stay the course building around his guy Andrew Bynum or has the seven footers immaturity finally forced his trade value to the front?
We’ve got plenty of questions with answers that will slowly be revealed in the coming months. This season wasn’t a total failure by the front office but in Lakerland any season that doesn’t end with a parade is a failure.