After LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers during free agency last summer, the thought was that the Lakers would steadily enhance their team and get back to championship form—or at least close to it.
They had their centerpiece in James, and they had their deal closer in team president Magic Johnson. As the Lakers approach the NBA draft and free agency, James may be wondering what he has gotten himself into.
Johnson was unable to close a deal during the season with the New Orleans Pelicans that would have brought Anthony Davis to the team, and subsequent reports indicated that the Lakers were never close to completing the deal.
After the season, head coach Luke Walton and the team decided to part company and Johnson subsequently quit his position, leaving general manager Rob Pelinka as the team's executive in charge of operations.
The Lakers are still without a coach, and the team appears to be unwilling or unable to make any moves of consequence.
They have not replaced Johnson at this point, even though there have been rumblings that they would find a high-profile individual to step into Johnson's position.
According to Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic, league sources have said that the Lakers did not reach out to former Cleveland general manager David Griffin before he agreed to join the New Orleans Pelicans.
Amick and Oram also pointed out that neither Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers nor Los Angeles Clippers consultant Jerry West, one of the Lakers' all-time greatest players, have been contacted either.
The lack of activity when it comes to finding a new executive could mean that Pelinka will continue to run the show, or it could mean that owner Jeanie Buss simply has not made a decision in that area.
Toronto Raptors team president Masai Uriji is interested in a move to Washington and becoming the Wizards' general manager, according to sources quoted by Ben Standig of NBCSports. However, a league source said that the Raptors are unlikely to give Uriji permission to interview with any team, including the Lakers.
It seems that the Lakers are mired by an inability to make a decision on a coaching hire. According to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic (h/t USA Today), the Phoenix Suns and the Lakers are both interested in hiring Monty Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers as their next head coach. The Lakers have interviewed Williams twice, but they have not offered him the job yet.
Rankin wrote that the Suns are waiting for the Lakers to make an offer to Williams so they can counter it.
In addition to speaking to Williams, they have also talked to Tyronn Lue, but he has not received an offer either.
The idea was to build a team around James that could contend for a title or win a championship, but it appears that the Lakers simply don't know how to do much but bide their time.