With Byron Scott, The Lakers Get Back to Basics

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The  2002 -2003 champion Spurs declined to resign 24 year old emerging wing Stephen Jackson and the Spurs failed to make it back to the Finals the next year. The 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, after reaching the Conference Finals the previous season, acquired Rasheed Wallace , who helped bring them a title that year. The  following offseason, the Pistons declined to resign Corliss Williamson and Memet Ohkur, and while the Pistons made the Finals, they fell short of a 2nd consecutive title.

The ’05-06 Miami Heat and the ’10-11 Dallas Mavericks were other teams that had elite rosters but were unable to extend their  championship windows, in part due to financial considerations. Its a common occurrence but somehow the Los Angeles Lakers situation the last four seasons is considered the end of an era, instead of the natural order of the NBA. More than any other franchise, the Lakers have been able to maximize each of their championship windows with multiple titles. With that said, the Organization, beginning in the 0ffseason of 2010, began to make financial decisions that gave them flexibility down the road.

They declined to keep their bench intact from their championship teams, then systematically tried to reconstruct the team on the move by trading both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol while at the height of their value. The trade was scuttled by the league office and it seriously wounded the Lakers franchise, more deeply than was known at the time.

The new collective bargaining agreement seemed directly  aimed at the Lakers as well, with its revenue sharing pilfering from big market teams, its onerous repeater tax for long term luxury tax teams, and its shorter contract structure  which made bad contracts more palatable for cash strapped franchises. The playing field was being tilted away from them, yet Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were able to pull off a coup and acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. These moves, which were home runs at the time, turned out horribly for the Lakers, and the franchise was now considered dead in the water.

But are they really?