In hindsight, the 2023-2024 campaign has been decent for the Los Angeles Lakers. But when you are projected as one of the top teams in the league leading up to a season, decent is not going to cut it. Can LA turn the tides as we look ahead to the rest of the season?
If you are going to evaluate an NBA team's outlook, you must start from the top and work your way down. Since the iconic Jerry Buss passed away in February 2013, his daughter Jeanie has been running the entire show.
While Jeanie won 5 titles as a member of the front office during her father's tenure, the team has earned only a single championship ring since she took over as the controlling owner of the franchise. While that championship in 2020 was nice, it would realistically be labeled as unacceptable over the course of a decade in the Lakers' terms and policies. She will surely need to get this team back on the championship path and will need to stay on the same page as her staff in order to do so.
Jeanie Buss needs to be introspective about the Lakers
The first member of her staff who she needs to gel with is her general manager, Rob Pelinka. Pelinka has his skeptics, but he has quietly built a reputation of being a top-notch executive since taking over sole control of the front office in 2017.
Besides the catastrophic Russell Westbrook trade and a few less-than-stellar signings in free agency (Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent, etc), the man behind the scenes has pulled some fairly harmonious strings in constructing and revamping this roster. He was showered with praise following a seemingly stupendous offseason, but the 2023-2024 Lakers' roster has not exactly been able to make things work consistently on the court. A main reason for that lack of steady cohesion could be the questionable coaching decisions of the team's latest scapegoat Darvin Ham.
There has been no shortage of slander thrown in Ham's direction since Los Angeles was crowned champions of the NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament back in early December. The primary concern with the Lakers head coach has been his inability to get the most out of his players.
Even dating back to last season, he has a tendency to summon some pretty puzzling rotations at times. Branching off of that, he has also showcased a pattern of gaslighting guys (example: Max Christie). Flinging your players in and out of the rotation is not a way to help them gain a rhythm, and even more importantly is not a way to aid in building on-court chemistry with respective lineups.
Ham and the organization are going to need to make some serious changes internally, or they may have no choice but to part ways and/or explore utilizing their trade assets to make some serious changes externally.
With a 23-23 record after the first 46 games of the 2023-2024 season, there is a ton of uncertainty tied to the overall outlook of this team going forward. The trade deadline is a mere two weeks away, meaning there could be some major alterations on the way very soon.
Whatever happens, this organization owes it to its fanbase, its ancestors, and LeBron James to work together in orchestrating a collective spark. They already have the pieces to make something happen in the postseason, but those pieces' inability to remain consistent may lead to Rob Pelinka making something happen in the trade market.
And if Darvin Ham cannot illuminate an ability to maximize his personnel, Jeanie Buss may have no choice but to make something happen on the sidelines.