No team in the NBA has lost more games over the past six seasons than the Lakers, but whatever infects basketball operations has graciously spared game operations, which are still the league's best.,The team plays in the most appealing market in the league; their local broadcast deal pays them in excess of $150 million per season; they employ LeBron James; and they have picked second overall in three of the past four drafts.,Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAYRather than assign blame to unfavorable news reports that embarrassed her franchise, Buss could have taken a page from Robert Sarver, the owner of a Suns team with the fifth-most losses over these six seasons.,At some point, the Lakers must recognize that running an NBA team is far more than an exercise in brand management and talent recruitment.,A front office is a managerial project like any other business -- NBA teams make widgets, only they're wins (or, more commonly for the Lakers, losses).
And at this stage in James' career, with three championships, eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances to his name and an equally burgeoning business and political profile off the court, James is a transcendent star.,Johnson said the Lakers didn't want to make the team like the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again for James.,James was just starting to find his footing with this new cast in Los Angeles.,Since his return from injury, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 109.6 when James is on the floor in four wins; the Lakers have a defensive rating of 113.1 when James is on the floor in the eight losses.,Most of the roster wasn't going to be back next year anyway, given the team's insistence on signing players to only one-year contracts to preserve salary-cap space for a second star this summer.
LOS ANGELES — LeBron James’ team won the All-Star Game, but that’s not the only reason why he had a ton of fun over the past few days.,READ MORE: NBA commentary from columnist Martin Rogers CLICK ROLL: Get exclusive content with our NBA newsletter He just spent a nice little break with a group of elite players, especially those he selected for his own team to take on Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo), that he’d love to be playing with every night.,And there's plenty to suggest that the closest James will get to his preferred Dream Team just passed by over the weekend, or will once again come and go at next year’s All-Star break.,Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, with all due respect to local football fans following the Rams' Super Bowl defeat, thinks his team has some similarities to the NFL champion New England Patriots.,"I think early on they were facing a ton of adversity," Pelinka said on a conference call with reporters Friday to discuss his team's NBA trade deadline deals.,The Clippers' deal opened a roster spot, and Pelinka said the team is evaluating "a handful" of players to fill it -- either now or closer to the March 1 deadline to add a player and have him be playoff eligible.,Continuing the Patriots' parallel, Pelinka compared Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman to the players the Lakers added, noting how New England found its rhythm after the slot receiver returned from a four-game suspension, much the same way he hopes the Lakers find their stride now.,Pelinka confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that detailed Johnson's plan to meet the team in Philadelphia -- Pelinka said Johnson is attending a reunion celebrating Michigan State's 1979 NCAA championship as he makes his way west to east.
Nor is it likely to end well for a lot of Lakers, some of whom could be New Orleans-bound in a trade for Anthony Davis … or cut for salary cap space, like the eight of them who are on one-year deals, to bring in more free agents like Klay Thompson … or unemployed like Coach Luke Walton if Magic Johnson holds him responsible for any shortfall.,I don’t see a second-round loss going over well with Johnson, not after he read Walton the riot act seven games into the season, then, in as close as he felt like coming to reassuring everyone publicly, said Luke would, “finish this season unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”,It’s still emerging with last week’s report by ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski that Magic has wanted a new coach since he took over, but has yet to convince Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Walton.,Despite his cachet, James hasn’t been a behind-the-scenes schemer … aside from all his player recruiting … although Riley, whom LeBron left high and dry, late revealed that LeBron hinted that he would like him to fire Coach Erik Spoelstra during LeBron’s first season in Miami without coming out and actually asking him to do it.,A recent report from ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has wanted a new coach since he took over in February of 2017, but has yet to convince team owner Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Luke Walton, left.
That was the dumbest move that the Dodgers have made since dumping Roberto Clemente.Jonathan GoldsteinLa JollaHow low can the Bruins go?I have an idea for future sponsors for the UCLA basketball team.,I suggest Charmin or Pillsbury because their team is as soft as toilet paper and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.Richard KatzLos Angeles::While watching a UCLA basketball team full of elite talent lose at home to Belmont last Saturday, it occurred to me that elite coaches have a special quality that is lacking in Steve Alford.,Neither Alford nor Guererro seems to have the resources to wake up the team.Pauley was empty against a unknown Belmont team that stole a win with the back door wide open.,Knowing how much I learn in a two-hour Walton basketball broadcast, I can only image the breadth of knowledge that will come from a four-hour Academy Awards show.Jeff BlackLos AngelesOld schoolFor anyone who is student of the game, it is useful to recall that when the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series of 1963, they used the exact same lineup each and every game.,But no worries, because irrespective of what they decide, two-thirds of the L.A. fan base will never be able to see the results.Bill WaxmanSimi ValleyFine whinesOne "fan" would not have a parade for the Chargers in Los Angeles if they won the Super Bowl.Others heap scorn and abuse on a Dodgers team that has made the World Series two years in a row.I've been following sports since the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, and I can't recall a bigger bunch of spoiled brats and whiners than some of those who appear on your letters page each week.Steve MehlmanBeaumontTrojan troubleIt seems that Lynn Swann is urgently trying to justify his retention of Clay Helton by doing some recruiting.
What was once mere speculation is now a folk movement as the schedule – aka the Pelican Death March – winds through Boston, where Celtic fans see Davis as their next Bill Russell … to Milwaukee, where the Pelicans took another loss and AD got another pitch … to Staples Center, where Lakerdom, starting with LeBron James, sees him as next in their line of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.,Actually, Davis, who played through illness in Milwaukee, declined to talk to the press … perhaps further upset at the latest furor after James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that trading for AD “would be amazing.,Wherever the Pelicans go, they’re obliged to rally around Davis with Coach Alvin Gentry proclaiming he’s theirs and will stay that way, and AD agreeing … up to a point.,LeBron’s comments about trading for Davis burned up the NBA last week with small markets worried their stars may be looted next.,NBA team officials seem reconciled to Davis joining the Lakers, but worry he’ll demand a short-term deal – as Bron did in Cleveland and Miami – signaling stars’ intentions to exert even more power.
NBA players, no matter how young, see such things coming.,The only 20-point, 10-rebound guys in the league right now are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis, Randle’s teammate and the subject of league-wide desire.,Of course, Lakers fans have postulated that every great player on every other team was destined to become a Laker eventually: Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan, Dominique Wilkins, etc.,The Pelicans feel this is clearly different because Rich Paul, James’ agent, has added Davis to his cast.,Randle and his young Laker mates were trying to figure out themselves, figure out the league, and get inured to the inevitable losing over the past three years.