Straight six

A STARTING unit of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace looked to give the LA Lakers their 17th NBA title during the 2012-2013 season.

But injuries to Kobe, Nash and Metta flushed the dream.

With a 46-37 record, they qualified for the post season as the seventh seed but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs which went on to battle and lost to the Miami Heat for the league title in seven games.

The following season had Howard going to Houston, Kobe and Nash still nursing injuries and they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

From 2013 to 2016, the second-most most expensive and decorated franchise in the league became the worst, finishing at the bottom of the standings for three consecutive seasons.

Kobe retired in April 2016 and even without him, there was a slight improvement during the 2016-2017 campaign, the team winning nine more games.

Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac were the team’s rookies. This period also saw the entry of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as team manager.  Later, Jeannie Buss became the majority owner of the franchise.

At season’s end, D’Angelo Russell was shipped to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez and the draft rights to Kyle Kuzma.  Nick Young signed with Golden State.

Last season, the Lakers improved with a 35-47 record but at 10th place in the WC, were still left out of the playoffs.  They also retired Kobe’s number 8 and 24, making him the first player in the league to have two numbers retired while playing on the same team.  Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant were the draft picks.  There was too much hype on Ball that the Lakers overlooked Jason Tatum.

In February 2018, I personally considered this as another blunder by the new management when they dealt Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. to Cleveland for an injured Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye.  Andrew Bogut was with the team but with Coach Luke Walton’s often confusing rotations, saw very limited playing time.

The LeBron craze came to the west that up to the moment, he always got prominent media coverage.  From lovers to haters, from admirers to bashers, tweets, newsfeeds and articles have something about the self-proclaimed GOAT.

Everyone in Hollywood got lost in translation with the exaggeration that LBJ is the team’s messiah that will lead the Lakers to the promised land of the playoffs.  Magic and Pelinka surrounded him with five serviceable vets with one-year deals.

Yes, he did carry the team until he got injured in December and the Lakers were fourth in the standings.  Things then went awry.  Key players also had injuries of their own and last month, shipped a promising Svi Mykhailiuk to Detroit for a good player with a bad hairstyle and a hugely improved Zubac to the LA Clippers practically for a bench decor.

Including the recent game with the Chicago Bulls, only 16 games remain on their schedule.  The Lakers need to win at least six games to improve on their 35-47 finish last season.  Their multi-million dollar man is reportedly on minutes restriction. Ball and Ingram are officially out for the season and Kuzma is still nursing a foot injury.  Last year’s two-game wonder Andre Ingram is back on a 10-day contract with the hope of adding firepower to an already lost cause.

Let’s see what the off season brings to my favorite NBA team.  Or perhaps more head scratching deals from team executives.  I say again.  Magic Johnson is one of the greats of the game but great he is not in handling basketball operations./PN


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