What to make of the Lakers’ long-running tragicomedy

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Reed Saxon/AP

The three-ring circus has become an utter joke around league circles. Like all the rest of their circus acts, the Lakeshow turned into a comical farce. The coaching carousel spun out of control and shaped up to be a wild ride for yet another cringeworthy moment.

Sadly, in reality, the Lakers have been an absolute disaster and fallen short of expectations in LeBron James’ first season with the team. It may be best for everyone on payroll to curl up into a ball and hide away from the embarrassment largely because of the bad habits, particularly by owner Jeanie Buss.

The best approach, if smart, would have been to hire a top-level NBA executive to replace Magic Johnson. To run a business successfully, she has to trust in the right people with the team’s future. From the outside looking it in, the Lakers have failed incredibly to build around James.

This was nothing new for the Lakers. Tyronn Lue was the team’s first choice. But even he raised and waved the red flags about Buss’ business acumen. His disinterest in accepting the toughest job in basketball bewildered the Lakers’ incompetent front office. His rejection plunged them into depths of despair and embarrassed them publicly.

Lue turned down a three-year, $18 million offer from them to be their next head coach. Now, the Lakers have to scroll to the end of the list and give a long look at potential coaching candidates. He was the betting favorite to find employment before anyone else. Rather than score with an organization where he once played, he’s perfectly fine with staying unemployed until he’s ready to settle for the right job.

The team’s massive failure to put out a great product manifested itself over the past few years. It may not always feel like it, but the Lakers have the talent to transform themselves from losers to legit title contenders. If they want to begin the long journey back to contention, Buss has to be smart about the way she does business.

Could it get any worse? The way it has gone, she’s listening to advice of her family and friends. Those close to Buss are persistently in her ear, telling her what to do with her brand-name franchise. This Lakers team has had more dysfunction than in previous years, from Johnson’s sudden departure as team president to Luke Walton’s firing to this latest debacle.

Many problems exacerbated by Buss letting her friends make decisions. And then it’s having Rob Pelinka responsible for the success of the team. And amazingly, he still has a job. Buss believes in an inexperienced and unpopular general manager. It proves to us and shows to us why the team has broken down.

The Lakers, in the midst of a storm, were thrown into national turmoil. The difficulty comes with her stubbornness and personal relationships with her friends she has known for a very long time. For this team to win, she’s going to have to not involve everybody in helping her renovate the Lakers.

The ones who truly wanted Lue, to pacify James, heard from him but couldn’t come to an agreement on a deal. The ones who were ready to move toward Monty Williams, to see James happy, met with him but the former 76ers assistant told the Lakers thanks but no thanks and chose to take the Phoenix Suns job.

That’s the state of the franchise right now. Unfortunately, not every coaching job is glamorous and not everyone finds the Lakers attractive. It’s not especially a good look, and it only got worse in a matter of days. Buss’ inability to take ownership could put her once-beloved Lakers in perils.

The next coach of the Lakers would have to face up to a back-breaking load of responsibilities, put up with an inept owner, earn James’ trust and maintain good relationships with front-office personnel. No wonder active candidates have shown no interest in the difficult challenge that lies ahead.

The chances of luring a top free agent is unlikely, but the first thing they must do is hire someone who has proven he can drastically reverse the direction of the team. The Lakers will have to move on it at some point and find a way for their franchise to move forward.

It’s going to take a coach who can grow with the young players and stay patience. And rest assured the Lakers would like to let go of the painful feelings and move past the mental and physical obstacles. A change seems inevitable. A new voice is definitely a must.

If the Lakers suddenly take the next step, it’s because they put the necessary pieces around him. However, the odds of that happening seems to be unlikely at least for now, until the Lakers get their act together, starting with Buss.

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