Lakers newsletter: Golden State Warriors could provide a roadmap for the Lakers

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook
(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

MEMPHIS — Hey everyone and welcome to a road trip edition of the Lakers newsletter, this time coming fresh off of Beale St. where I saw the Golden State Warriors get totally demolished by a short-handed Grizzlies team.

The quick trip to Memphis gave me a chance to see playoff basketball up close (the Grizzlies’ media seats are probably the best in the NBA), and it left me with some thoughts about the problems that are going to undoubtedly find the Lakers in the near future.


Here’s what I noticed:

Weirdly, I want to start with the Golden State Warriors. Had they closed out the series Wednesday, I probably would’ve spent my time postgame asking Stephen Curry and Draymond Green about how two seasons of losing fueled them and how they, in some ways, benefitted from the reset. It is, after all, a similar enough of a position as the Lakers are in.

But as you look down the Warriors bench, it’s impossible not to notice how they’ve added talent in the aftermath of their last NBA Finals appearance. They drafted Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. They also have James Wiseman still trying to get healthy lurking on the fringes of the roster. They turned Kevin Durant’s exit into Andrew Wiggins through a series a moves, adding more punch. And, of course, they got mostly healthy.

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The Lakers, of course, haven’t been able to add value since winning their most recent NBA title. Instead, they’ve stripped away parts as they’ve tried to reinvent and stay near the top of the West. And as of now, in terms of young players they’ve acquired since winning, only Austin Reaves qualifies as someone who can reliably be a part of the future. And their big swing, the trade for Russell Westbrook, failed and has left the Lakers even deeper in a hole.

And then there’s the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the youngest teams in the league, throttling the Warriors and ruining my column plans.

Playing without Ja Morant, Memphis continued to thrive without him – not a slight at Morant so much as a credit to their depth and confidence.

Being so close to the action, it was jarring just how fast and long the Grizzlies were Wednesday, playing with the kind of energy and pace the Lakers couldn’t muster enough times this season. And then there was Jaren Jackson Jr., patrolling the rim and stretching the floor on the other end, a glimpse of what the Lakers could have if Anthony Davis can ever become a confident and competent three-point shooter.

Lastly, the environment in Memphis for the playoffs is wonderful. I find it be just the right amount of hostile, something I saw first-handed in the Grizzlies two playoff series with the “Lob City” Clippers. Their crowd is totally connected and enthused by their team. Have the Lakers, since winning,, been able to build that kind of bond with its fans?

Speaking of bonds with fans

Jeanie Buss
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

I hope you didn’t miss Bill Plaschke’s exclusive interview with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. In it, she defended her process, her reliance on confidantes and her resolve to return the Lakers to glory.

It was a rare look behind the curtain for an organization that hasn’t always been clear with who is doing what.


Still no coach

The team is continuing interviews, this time speaking with former Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson. The process has been moving slowly, but really, there’s little need to rush at this stage.

Song of the week

Big Country – “In a Big Country”

I love the 80’s and this is one of the best rock songs of the decade. Something about hearing it come on during shuffle always makes me so happy during a plane ride. Also makes me think of Bryant Reeves.

In case you missed it

Lakers receive permission to interview Golden State assistant coach Kenny Atkinson

‘I’m growing impatient’: Five takeaways from Jeanie Buss’ interview with The Times

The 1990s made the NBA a global phenomenon. The Showtime Lakers paved the way

How Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis changed the conversation about AIDS in America


Until next time...

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