Panic is a severe word to use where sports franchises are concerned, given the millions of dollars invested in players and coaches and the long-term vision it takes to put together a team capable of competing for a championship.
On paper, the Lakers should have the talent to be in that championship conversation. But injuries to the team’s biggest offsesason acquisitions in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard have at a minimum delayed those aspirations, and may have derailed them altogether.
Only time will tell if the Lakers are unable to dig themselves out of the hole that finds them currently out of the playoff picture. But after already making a coaching change early in the season, the team’s leadership seems content with playing things out with the roster as currently constructed.
Appearing on 710 ESPN radio in Los Angeles on Thursday, Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss had plenty to say about the current state of the team, and stressed that he’s not about to make any rash decisions, especially considering the relatively limited time L.A.’s key players have had on the court together.
As transcribed by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:
“I don’t know if we’ve had five games where all our players are playing,” Buss said. “When you have injuries like that, you can’t play enough games together to get chemistry.”
“How can you not believe in this team? This team is built to win and it’s a very, very solid team,” Buss said. “In my mind, we would not consider a temporary fix or blow it up. Why blow up something that we have a future with?”
“I’m still excited about the team but injuries have played such a huge part in this. I’m not frustrated with the players at all,” Buss said. “Am I upset that we might not make the playoffs? Of course.”
“To panic?” asked Buss. “No, we’re not going to panic.”
That’s certainly good to hear for Lakers fans, considering that a team that has changed its head coach and made a blockbuster trade within the same season hasn’t won a title in recent years.
In L.A., of course, that was the goal once the season began, and it’s still the standard this year’s Lakers squad will be held to, at least to some extent. Right now the team will need to win in the neighborhood of two out of every three games the rest of the way to even make the postseason, but should that happen, anything is possible.
One thing is clear, and that’s the fact that blowing this team up or making any additional short-term changes to win RIGHT NOW is not the answer. This team needs time to play and practice together with its full compliment of players available to see what it’s truly capable of, and panic — at any level of the organization — will only serve to achieve the opposite of the desired result.