If you’re someone who likes to keep track of the Lakers’ chances of winning an NBA championship according to the bookies – for example, you can check online betting odds at Skybook – then you’ll know that the purple and gold haven’t been title favorites (by a long shot) for quite some time.
Then again, just looking at the standings will tell you that.
Still, it used to be that Las Vegas would have the Lakers as one of their favorites year after year. But then Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles, and Dwight Howard left for Houston, and Pau Gasol left town.
Yeah, you know the story of how we got here.
So when Jeanie Buss made the bold decision to fire longtime Laker Mitch Kupchak from his position of general manager, and also take away the top basketball operations title from her brother, Jim, it’s likely that Vegas, just like the rest of us, were watching.
Magic Johnson was announced as the team’s president of basketball operations on the same day of Jeanie’s move, and Earvin’s “running mate” Rob Pelinka was introduced as the general manager last week.
These are two huge names in the basketball world, but can they get the job done?
Decision making shouldn’t be a problem just as long as Magic delegates and listens to the basketball minds on his staff. Besides hiring Pelinka, who has lived in basketball gyms for years while scouting out talent as an agent, the Lakers retained the services of Ryan West and two other Buss brothers in Joey and Jesse, and then there’s head coach Luke Walton, so Magic should definitely look for help from those guys.
The main focus will be on free agency, however, and whether Magic’s infectious personality and legend status, coupled with Pelinka’s connections, will be enough to bring in the big names.
Under Mitch and Jim, the Lakers struggled to even secure meetings wth the league’s top players, so the new regime won’t have to make much of a splash to improve on the last few summers.
Still, if those Vegas odds are going to turn around any time soon, the purple and gold are going to have to add some serious talent to their roster one way or another.
Of course, the development of the younger players is the obvious way to get better, but that’s going to take time, and gutting the team in a trade for a superstar player may not be a good move unless there’s a real shot to sign other superstars like Magic’s mentor, Pat Riley, and the Miami Heat did in 2010.