Is LeBron James to Blame for the Lakers" Failure?|
The Los Angeles Lakers have missed out on the playoffs after their seventh straight defeat to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. As the Western Conference leaders, the Suns were favorites going into the game, but Lakers fans will still be shocked that their side won't be making the playoffs this season.
The Lakers were without LeBron James once again as they suffered the 121-110 defeat, with the star player injured alongside Anthony Davis. The Suns are now the favorites at Betway to win the NBA Championship this season with odds of +300, while the Brooklyn Nets are second-favorites at +550.
The two big-money stars of James and Davis have failed to impress this season, and some have put the blame for the Lakers' failed season on LeBron. As only the fourth time in his career that LeBron has missed the playoffs, he'll obviously be disappointed, but is he partly to blame?
Los Angeles Lakers Fall to Defeat
The Lakers are used to winning championships, and this is certainly a championship-winning team. Having last won in 2020, they're now looking at their first postseason without the playoffs since 2019. The loss to the Sun was compounded by the San Antonio Spurs winning their game, which meant it's now mathematically impossible for the Lakers to reach the playoffs despite there being games remaining.
"We wanted to play our part in bringing success to Lakers basketball and we fell short," said coach Frank Vogel after the defeat. "We're extremely disappointed.
Disappointed for our fanbase, disappointed for the [ownership], that gave us this opportunity. Vogel’s job is now reportedly on the line, despite bringing a championship to LA just two seasons ago.
"It's not been due to a lack of effort. We have all put in the work. Guys stayed fighting right to the end. We brought integrity to the process, we just fell short through a disjointed season. We're all disappointed."
Who's to Blame?
LeBron James is widely considered one of the best players of all time, but even he couldn't save this struggling Lakers side. Hampered by injuries, he still had a great season with 30/8/6. However, he’s been allowed too much influence over the team.
LeBron's good friend and agent, Paul Rich, is also responsible for representing a lot of the other players at the Lakers. The fact that Paul's agency has so much power within the Lakers and that James can potentially influence these decisions is a bad sign. No sports team should allow any of its players to become bigger than the team, but some feel that this is what has happened here.
Still, LeBron isn't the only one to blame for sure. The experiment with Westbrook has failed. His acquisition, like the roster-building ideology it represented, has fallen out of favor. The Lakers can't just pile on big names and trust that their star power will compensate for lack of chemistry. James is ineffective when paired with a point guard who can't shoot or defend. He and Davis can't keep a squad of ten minimum-wage players together. A lot needs to change for this Lakers side to be good again.
How Can the Lakers Improve?
For some people, this loss was the best thing that could have happened to the Lakers. The team now needs to make serious changes after two poor seasons in a row, and questions need to be asked about the decisions that the front office has made in recent years. Bringing in Westbrook and spending huge money on the biggest names clearly hasn't worked.
The Lakers need a culture shift away from their current strategy, and it's likely that head coach Frank Vogel will be one of the first to go. This is just step one in a long list of decisions that the Lakers need to improve, however. This season was a total humiliation for the LA-based team. It was conclusive proof that the values held by this organization no longer win basketball games. Now that things have gotten this bad, the only way to go is up.