Lakers fans collectively shift blame from Ham to true culprit

Lakers fans are finally blaming the right person for their issues.
Los Angeles Lakers, Darvin Ham
Los Angeles Lakers, Darvin Ham / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are down 3-0 and on the verge of elimination in their first-round playoff series against the Nuggets. D’Angelo Russell couldn’t make a shot on Thursday, but Denver has been the better team in every facet. The Nuggets have defeated the Lakers in 11 straight meetings, and the defending champions have forced the Lakers to ask some difficult questions.

Head coach Darvin Ham has rightfully taken heat for his lack of adjustments in this series. The Lakers' offense stagnates in the fourth quarter, and the Nuggets have dominated every second half. Every game feels the same, and Ham has struggled to find answers.

The blame is shifting after Game 3, and fans are rightfully getting upset at Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office. Their results suggested this was a mediocre team headed for a first-round playoff exit all season, but LA did not make changes. They signed Spencer Dinwiddie in the buyout market and now face a host of issues.

Rob Pelinka begins taking the blame for the Lakers' issues

The Lakers made a surprise run to the conference finals in 2023. Few saw it coming, but LA’s deadline moves worked wonders. They were swept by the eventual champion Nuggets. Still, the front office believed in that group and virtually decided to run it back this season. The Lakers' biggest change was replacing Dennis Schroder with Gabe Vincent.

After mid-December, they were never higher than eighth in the Western Conference standings. Fans can blame injuries if they wish, but all of their top five players in minutes per game appeared in 71 or more contests. Their roster was not challenging the elite teams at any point.

LeBron James and the fans clamored for upgrades at the deadline, but they never came. Rob Pelinka did not make a trade. The only addition was signing Spencer Dinwiddie off the buyout market. The front office failed to put more talent around LeBron and Anthony Davis, which is causing massive issues against the Nuggets.

D’Angelo Russell is struggling, but Darvin Ham has nobody else to turn to. The Lakers’ depth was supposed to be a strength, but it has turned into one of their biggest weaknesses. In their first two games against Denver, Taurean Prince was the only bench player to score. Ham is playing an eight-man rotation, but only has faith in six players. It forces 39-year-old King James to play 40-plus minutes every night. Fans should not wonder why he is gassed in the fourth quarter.

Their roster is the biggest problem. Austin Reaves did not make the jump everyone hoped for. The Lakers have four trusted guards, but cannot play three of them at the same time. There is simply not enough talent behind LeBron and AD. When D’Angelo Russell is a team’s third-most important player, they are not contenders. They make a first-round playoff exit, just like the Lakers are about to experience.

Fans wanted Darvin Ham fired for months, but Pelinka stuck by his head coach. The lack of adjustments and offense can be blamed on Ham, but the general manager is indirectly responsible for not making a change with a roster eager to contend for a championship.

Rob Pelinka and the front office have work to do this offseason. Deciding on Darvin Ham’s future is job one. They must find ways to upgrade their roster too. The Los Angeles Lakers have three tradable first-round draft picks and will likely use them. If they don’t, fans should be clamoring for Pelinka’s job to start the 2024-25 season.