Rob Pelinka

Lakers remind us what a mess they are in (again) as Lue walks away

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The Phoenix Suns appointed Monty Williams last week, leaving a clear and obvious path for the Los Angeles Lakers to hire Ty Lue as Luke Walton’s successor.

It was an open goal for the Lakers, handing a coaching role to a former player with Championship pedigree. Despite the chaos at Staples Center, messing this up seemed far-fetched. Of course, that was an incorrect assumption to make.

Reports came out on Wednesday that Lue had pulled himself out of the running for the Lakers job.

Others soon followed, providing greater detail. Lue had not had a change of heart about working for a historic franchise, and he hadn’t fallen out with LeBron James. The Lakers, knowing they may only have three more years of LeBron, refused to offer Lue more than three years and $18 million. Lue wanted five years.

Lue was also frustrated that the Lakers wanted to choose some of his staff.


This latest episode of mayhem is fitting with the modern Los Angeles Lakers. We shouldn’t be surprised by the dysfunction and the organisation’s constant ability to trip itself up.

The story is well known by now. The Lakers built a puzzling roster, missed out on big free agents and mismanaged the Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard trade situations.

Oh, and of course, then there was Magic Johnson’s public resignation without telling his close friend Jeanie Buss. Walton was fired and Pelinka kept his job.

There has been misfortune – LeBron’s injury the most notable example – but the majority of the Lakers’ woes over the last 12 months and beyond have been self-made.

Every synonym of ‘chaos’ has been used to describe the Lakers in recent years. They are the centre of attention so often, and that has only been amplified with LeBron’s arrival. This is a franchise in disarray, a franchise with communication issues, and a franchise without an agreed direction.


Stephen A Smith spoke soon after the Lue news broke and said, “Some people close to Jeanie Buss are telling her to trade LeBron James.”

It seems ridiculous, but so does everything the Lakers do. And who knows, maybe LeBron will ask for a trade if they cannot build a competitive roster.

The one thing we know with this iteration of the Lakers is to never rule anything out.

The conference semi-finals have been thrilling, yet the Lakers still manage to grab the headlines. Having landed James last summer, the Lakers are a distraction from actual basketball being played as they miss out on their supposed top two candidates to replace Walton.

Magic’s departure and the mishandling of trying to hire Lue doesn’t suggest this offseason will be any better than last.

The mayhem isn’t a surprise any more. It will be a shock when the Lakers are making headlines for the right reasons.

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