Dec 23, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D

Bad Decisions Have Cost The Los Angeles Lakers This Season


Mandatory Credit: USA Today

The Los Angeles Lakers have always been known as a power house team and a franchise that has never accepted the losing culture that haunts so many other teams. That clearly was not the case this year. They assembled a team filled with cast-offs and hoped that an aging trio of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash could carry them into the playoffs. That was a clear pipe dream that quickly turned into a nightmare that has been the 2013-2014 season, a season that will go down in Lakers history as the most forgettable one. This season didn’t just happen overnight though, the Lakers front office has made countless bad decisions over the last three years, and this season was the result of all those decisions.

Who’s to blame? Everyone who has been a part of the Lakers this year should probably shoulder some kind of it. In reality, Lakers management should shoulder all the blame because they are the decision makers and should be held accountable for the team that they have assembled.

Los Angeles has branded itself as a Lakers town and the Lakers front office clearly forgot about that. They have made one bad decision after another that resulted in the clubs first 50 loss season since moving to Los Angeles. Former owner Jerry Buss never allowed his teams to go over 50 loses in one season, but his children have lost sight of what the Lakers brand truly revolves around, and that’s winning.

Yes, Owner Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak made the  Chris Paul trade that was vetoed by the league and brought in Dwight Howard , but those moves didn’t pan out. The pair has made two highly questionable coaching hires that have made every Lakers fan pull their hair and pinch themselves, and asking if this is for real. But it is real, because the decisions that have been made were not the right ones. They were all risky moves that back fired and turned the mighty Lakers into another dysfunctional franchise.

One thing about this season was that the Lakers wanted to tank this season, but made it seem to everyone that they wanted to be competitive. They have never tanked a season before, but it’s clear that they had to gain some kind of assets. The franchise is in danger of becoming a place that’s filled with broken dreams and promises, not just to their players, but to the fans. The string of bad decisions started when Mike Brown was hired and then fired in favor of Mike D’Antoni .

The decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, and gave the notion that D’Antoni would bring back the era of “Showtime.” It was a puzzling hire that has turned into a disaster. The front office may have finally seen the light after James Harden and the Houston Rockets  lit up the Lakers for 140 points! The crazy part is, Dwight Howard didn’t even suit up. The score may have shot up to 160! That is of course, the D’Antoni way.

D’Antoni’s thinking of outscoring opponents without playing defense has done nothing more than put them in the record books for allowing these constant totals. The Lakers scored 120 points many times this year, but were still on the losing end. That right there is a head scratcher. If the Heat, Thunder, or Spurs score 120, they win, but they play defense, and have no problem doing it.

The philosophies that D’Antoni has preached have not been the best. He’s not the kind of coach that can lead a team to a title, let alone play defense. His offense may be one that most teams have, but defense is more important than ever. Offense will take any team far, as long as stops are made. D’Antoni will never be a defensive wizard, and will never gain the proper respect from star players because of his philosophies and being a pushover. Sure he and Kobe got along at the beginning, but a lot can change in a year especially as losses start to pile up.

The Lakers didn’t seem to care about D’Antoni’s lack of a defensive strategy at the time of his hire. They were more enamored with former rivals coming to provide a high energy offense that would be entertaining. People love to be entertained in Hollywood, but they also like winners as well.

Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash used to kill the Lakers in the mid 2000’s, but the Lakers once again made a bad decision to reunite former rivals. The truth is it was never going to work out. They were destined from the start to fail in Los Angeles. Steve Nash’s health went south, and D’Antoni had to rely on others to run his offense. It just never panned out; the Lakers gambled on these two and lost all their chips in the processes.

Like the Lakers have done over the last decade, they go for the big name players who are past their prime and a big name coach with a shaky history without any thought of how it will affect the team going forward.

Hanging on to players for too long has also contributed to this horrid season. Pau Gasol should have been dealt long ago and their biggest trade chip, Dwight Howard left without any consolation last year. The Lakers have been too loyal to their players in an age where loyalty is an afterthought among players.

It pains me to say it, but signing Kobe Bryant to a hefty two-year extension for over $20 million a year was not the best decision either. The Lakers again were too loyal. They could have waited until the off-season, and seen if Kobe was truly loyal to them. Now, Bryant is complaining about how lousy the team has been, but Kobe has failed to realize his mistake; accepting his contract extension. This will leave the Lakers with less cap space, and maybe less of a chance at a sixth title. Arguably, both sides made a bad decision and will now have to live with it, no matter what the outcome is.

Gaining no assets or having trade chips hurts more than anything. They can no longer trade their peanuts for gold. The days of handing a franchise player to the Lakers are in the rear view mirror. It’s an equal level playing field in the NBA now, where small market teams have the same salary cap as the big market ones. And the Lakers might have forgotten that no one in the league wants to see them succeed. Many owners love to see the Lakers rot, but the Lakers can’t allow themselves to rot for too long.

These bad decisions have hurt the Lakers in so many ways and this season was a reflection of all those decisions. The Lakers are now faced with a rebuild that will be difficult because of past decisions, but making the right decisions going forward is all they can do at this point. Signing  Mitch Kupchak to a new multi-year extension was a good start and a vote of confidence that he can fix this sinking ship. Getting lucky, having a few miracles, and making good decisions are what will bring the Lakers back to life, but certainly not bad decisions

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Dwight Howard Jim Buss Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Los Angeles Lakers Mike D'Antoni Mitch Kupchak Pau Gasol Steve Nash

  • Marty Susman

    Well hello, naturally these problems are at the feet of the front office. The questions now are will they make the same ones again ???? They already screwed up by giving Kobe $48,000,000 contract, the DUMBEST move they have made so far. They gave away Drew, they gave away D12, they will be giving away Pau & ZERO in return for all three…. They signed a crippled Nash & didn’t trade him when they had a chance & now they are STUCK with him & his $9,000,000….Sooooo the questions are;

    A. Will they somehow someway find a team that they can “sign n trade” Gasol to & get something back ???
    B. Will they go after Greg Monroe BUT not give him a max contract ???
    C. Will they go after Deng & NOT give him a max contract ???
    D. Will they use common sense & NOT go after Love because they will get him for free next year ???
    E. Will they DUMP this high school coach & bring in a REAL one like the chubby Van Gundy ???
    F. Will they bring in D. Fish as an asst. coach ???
    G. Will they relax until the 2015 free agency where they can get “WHOLE” again ???
    H. If Irving is unhappy, will they go after him with a MAX contract ???

    Those are just a few things they need to think about, so let’s wait & see what happens after the draft…Will

  • stucktrader

    I know it’s time to move on… but i primarily blame Stern for nixing that CP3 trade…

    if anything, that would have allowed the Lakers to send away 2 massive contracts (Pau & LO).
    Even if it wasn’t CP3, a ‘pretty good’ PG with a reasonable contract would have avoided the gamble on Nash.

    I was never a fan of bringing in Dwight… if anything, i would rather have K.Love… and Chandler
    If the Lakers were to have sent Dwight to NYK for Chandler… that too would have been better for LA and the League(Melo&Dwight vs MIA)…

    It is what it is… too massive of a contract to Kobe… i really wish they talked Kobe into one year with an adjusted split of the cap in the season of K.Love + another FA…

    Alas, we await the draft… and hope the right player falls to LA.

  • JackieChilesIsSpeechless

    “Los Angeles has branded itself as a Lakers town and the Lakers front office clearly forgot about that.” You started a paragraph with this sentence, but then never addressed the issue again in that paragraph or any subsequent one. Besides the general management problems you describe throughout the article, how did the Lakers’ behavior over the past several seasons also exhibit that it did not fully appreciate LA branding itself as the Lakers town? Did they not draft local players? Were they not loyal to homegrown players? How are the failures you describe unique to rebuking the loyalty of LA citizens? The answer is not implied by anything you write thereafter.

    “The decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, and gave the notion that D’Antoni would bring back the era of ‘Showtime.’” This isn’t even a complete sentence.

    “Who’s to blame? Everyone who has been a part of the Lakers this year should probably shoulder some kind of it. In reality, Lakers management should shoulder all the blame because they are the decision makers and should be held accountable for the team that they have assembled.” Your initial point, which you don’t qualify in any way to suggest you’re being rhetorical, is that everyone in the Lakers organization has a responsibility for its demise. But then you immediately contradict yourself by stating that all blame should be put on management. This sort of inconsistency is not a proper way to persuade your audience of your point.

    Your article is filled with several trite statements, which is, per se, a lazy method for attempting to argue a point. As one of many potential examples of such use is how you conclude your article: “Getting lucky, having a few miracles, and making good decisions are what will bring the Lakers back to life, but certainly not bad decisions”. In addition to the fact that you improperly changed the subject of the sentence halfway through, the point you’re attempting to make is circular and simplistic. You could have just as easily written, “To succeed, the Lakers will need to be successful, but a lack of success will not help them”; such a statement would be as equally unpersuasive as what you wrote.

    You also fail to use commas in several sentences where they are necessary.

    Your writing is grammatically-flawed, and your ability to argue persuasively is underdeveloped. C-
    I hope I don’t see you repeating this class again next semester.

  • hookedonnews

    Do you really believe that the D’Antoni way is allowing 140 points? You may be stuck in 2004/5, but MDA isn’t. He doesn’t have the kind of players to believe he can outscore opponents and not play defense. Do you not ever listen to what the man says, or are you still quoting that statement he made in 2005 that Stephen A Smith quotes every other week? What has killed this team? Injuries. MDA & Nash were not destined to fail if Nash hadn’t broken his leg. Have bad decisions been made? Yeah, but even with the less than stellar roster around Nash, Kobe, & Gasol, this season would not have been even close to the failure it has been without the devastating injuries. Will they have enough healthy players to field a team on Friday? Just barely, and at least one of the guys who will be playing isn’t 100%. The CBA is also a major factor in what has gone on with this team.

  • Mario Elizondo

    Thanks for the read. I also love all the comments and sarcasm! Thanks!

  • crudbud

    Nailed it.

    Poor decisions caught up them. The Nash trade (2 first round picks) was one of the worst in Laker history and I am sure Kobe insisted on it. Signed Brown and D’Antoni were mistakes. Signing Kobe for 20mil for 2 years was a huge mistake. Embarrassing themselves with Howard who didn’t want to come to LA and to no one’s surprise except Kobe and Cupcake, didn’t want to stay in LA.

    What I think you underestimate is how unattractive LA is. It is a $hithole of ugly, crime, drugs, perverts, smog, filth, poor schools, and high taxes. It is like NY got for a while until Rudi cleaned in up. It just doesn’t have the allure that Houston, Dalles, Maimi and Orlando have. Player makes on average 20% more in Florida and Texas and that doesn’t even include the hight real estate prices and high cost of everything in LA.

    Good coaches are not going to want to come because they don’t like LA and they don’t believe current ownership has the brains to put together a winning program. They always believed Jerry was a great owner and would put a winning team on the court.

    It is going to take good management luck and hard work to bring LA back. With current ownership the odds are that does not happen.