I’m about to marginally insult people I’ve never met — namely, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. I don’t like doing it, because they don’t seem like horrible people. And it’s kind of a cheap shot.
It has to be done in the name of tough love.
Not for their sakes. They don’t give a damn about me.
It has to be done for Lakers fans — who have started to see this roster get torn asunder by the new leadership team of Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. It had to be ripped to pieces because what was put together by the scatterbrained Jim Buss looked like a quilt for puppies. It looks cute in a photo, but in real life it’s a rag that stinks up the entire house.
But you’re wrong, James. This is a young core that needs to develop! Give them time!
Um, how much time? Especially when you can clear salary cap room for players in the prime of their career who have already developed. You have no idea if Randle will be better than Paul Pierce. I wouldn’t wager on it. And don’t insult my intelligence by saying Clarkson will ever approach Russell Westbrook.
Not that I believe both Pierce and Westbrook, or Pierce and LeBron James, or Pierce and insert-megastar-here are sure to come to LA. But maximum contracts in exciting cities with player-friendly ownership groups go a long way.
How can anyone argue that wagering on the future of inconsistent players is superior to the certainty of perennial all-stars? True, Russell scored 40 points in a game against the Cavaliers. He is also the 17th-most turnover prone player in a league of about 450 people. He averaged 2.8 per game. Considering when a point guard turns a ball over, it is often at midcourt, that’s the equivalent of about three breakaway layups every game.
You can’t have that. Even worse came public feuds with coaches, a breach of trust with his teammates by posting an embarrassing video to social media and telling Lakers fans that they expect too much.
Lonzo Ball is unlikely to blast his coaches, tell Lakers fans to pipe down or betray the fellas in the locker room. … OK, maybe his father, but let’s withhold judgment.
So why Randle and Clarkson? Well, Clarkson doesn’t even start. There is no such thing as an indispensable reserve on a team that can’t win 30 games. As for Randle, how can I put this?
Consider that the Lakers had no leadership last year. That was, in my opinion, by design. First-year coach Luke Walton inherited a team of young players and — like Phil Jackson used to do — let his players try to figure it out. That whole thing you hear about “whose team it is”? How the Wizards are John Wall’s team. The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team? Well, if those younger players were worth the hassle, one of them would have taken the reins. One would have busted his rear, produced big numbers and insisted his teammates follow his lead.
Randle didn’t. He, too, was as inconsistent as Russell. Given a chance to make a name for himself, Randle scored 13.2 points per game — a mere two points better than his first full season. Even worse, his rebounds per game dropped. And this guy is supposed to be a power forward?
Now, he’s still on the roster, for now. But Lakers fans need to catch up to me. No, better stated, they need to jump off the “next gen” bandwagon and look with sober eyes at players that might mature. They have been affirming a future that his little discipline.
And affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.