Over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have set a variety of different deadlines for when they feel capable of judging this team.
I can’t judge this team until Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn play.
I can’t judge this team before 20 games.
I can’t judge this team until Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant are back.
I can’t judge this team until December 15th.
I can’t judge this team until the other GMs return from vacation.
In the latest episode of ESPN LA’s “Lakers Talk” radio show, Jovan Buha of Athleticism gave host Allen Sliwa the latest update on the Lakers’ ongoing self-assessment process, and while he reiterated that the front office hopes to get an idea of whether or not the Lakers (currently 7-12 overall) are good at basketball or not on Dec. 15, it’s clear that the only thing they know right now is that they don’t know it yet:
“All I’ve heard from multiple sources is that December 15 is the date they’re aiming for now. I had originally heard and reported that Thanksgiving was 20-25 games, but the truth is the Lakers don’t feel like they have much of a hold on this team. And with LeBron missing several games, with AD missing a few games, with Dennis and Thomas not starting the season healthy, then these guys are now emerging as key players in the rotation, with Pat Beverley also suspended … yes, they had the Big 3 for 10 of 19 games and they’re only 3-7 with those three playing together, but overall they want a bit more sample to figure out ‘what do we have here , which parts fit, which parts don’t fit and who do we want to keep, who do we want to return? “
As I did in my previous article on Buha’s other report of this radio hit, I would say that at this point all this reporting involves the front office has made a value judgment on this current group, found it insufficient and wants to be wrong about it before making a deal. If they thought a single trade they can afford with their current supply of draft picks would solve that problem, it seems likely they would have done it already rather than going into the season with a roster clearly overloaded with guards to prepare for the long-running trade with Russell Westbrook that never happened.
The Lakers can keep saying and running away that they can’t judge this team as much as they want yet, and maybe this group can show they’re better than their record, but it’s hard to imagine. a scenario at this point that convinces Rob Pelinka, Kurt Rambis and the rest of the team’s mastermind to believe they should send their only currently negotiable first-round picks to overhaul the roster nearly a third of the season away as they haven’t done so yet, or even seemed to be getting very close to doing so.
And since they have already started testing the ball, the inevitable “Well, it’s hard to make a trade in December because other GMs want family time” leaked, it seems just as likely that the next one will be “Well, you know the trade talks don’t really heat up until the February deadline approaches” followed by “We just haven’t seen a deal that was worth it and would rather see what this group can do if they are healthy in the playoffs” and/or a few small movements on the margins that don’t give up much (if any) of significant future capital. And if that’s indeed how things are going and the team continues to waste season after season despite their draft picks in New Orleans, we’re not going to have to wait as long as the fanbase judges this. front office because it took the latter to try to judge this team.
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