Lakers Proving Money Alone Doesn't Win a Championship

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterNovember 20, 2012

EL SEGUNDO, CA - AUGUST 10:  Dwight Howard (L) walks with General Manager Mitch Kupchak of the Los Angeles Lakers being introduced as the newest member of the Lakers at a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers aquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade. In addition Lakers wil receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from the Magic.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Greatness comes at a cost in many aspects of life.

For the Los Angeles Lakers, it's more expensive than for most.

The Lakers hold a current payroll of $100.4 million according to, more than $40 million over the NBA's soft cap.

What have they gotten for this league-leading salary thus far in 2012-13?  How about a 1-4 start and a fired head coach with a side of Mike D'Antoni.


While things have been on the upswing recently for L.A. (a .500 record, woo-hoo!), the Lakers have proven that money alone cannot buy success.

While there may be a direct link to team payroll and team wins, one cannot simply open up a wallet and expect other teams to lie down for you.

Teams like the Orlando Magic (third in payroll, 25th in wins) and Indiana Pacers (20th in payroll, third in East last season) further help to prove this point.

Money certainly helps, but it is by no means the be-all, end-all when it comes to winning in professional basketball.

Looking at some tape of the Lakers, they're primary areas of concern right now are the passing game with Steve Nash out and overall team defense.  As of November 20th, the Lakers were just 14th in the league in points allowed and 18th in assists per game.

A lot of that can be contributed to the teams poor chemistry thus far.

In an opening night loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers too often looked confused on defensive switches and were often a step late getting to their man.

As seen above around the 30 second mark, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant get crossed up, leaving both Gasol's man wide open in the paint and O.J. Mayo open for a three-pointer.  Steve Nash was also late getting to his man.

At 2:27, the Lakers defense again does a poor job of communicating, as Dallas had three players wide open while an unguarded Branden Wright cuts to the basket for an And 1 opportunity.

The very next play in the clip L.A. looks lost on defense, leading to another easy layup for Dallas.

While the Lakers have since improved on their opening night loss, a 5-5 record is still extremely disappointing.

What the Lakers lack now is the same thing they could have used more of back in the 2004 NBA Finals: team chemistry.

While the two teams are completely different, they did both feature a bevy of All-Stars brought together and expected to become an elite team right away.

This simply doesn't happen overnight.

The 2003-04 NBA Champion Pistons carried a modest payroll of about $54 million.  The Lakers were substantially higher at $64 million, with $24 million being paid to Shaquille O'Neal alone.

Still, the Pistons prevailed.

A study was done by Eugene Shen entitled "NBA Chemistry: Positive and Negative Synergies in Basketball" that can be seen below and in more detail here.

He stated that teams need to take into account not just the level of talent of players on the court, but to take note what their talents are and how they best complement one another.

With the current Lakers, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are some of the best in the league at their positions, but are they necessary at their best when on the court together?

This, among other reasons, likely led to the Lakers' poor start and the eventual firing of Brown.

The challenge for D'Antoni now will be to establish the best rotation possible and find out which players complement which to produce the best chemistry they can.

$100 million certainly brought the talent to L.A., but as we've seen from the Lakers so far and in the past, it will take a lot more than dollars and cents to bring another title to Hollywood.