Asset management is a systematic process of implementing, leveraging, and maximizing items of value in order to multiply a return on investment. The NBA is a glorified asset management system.
The way an organization manages their assets to compete for a championship speaks largely to the leadership philosophy. How a team holds on to or trades assets shows how they value the current year as well as future success. Since 2012 the Lakers have shot for short term reward sacrificing long term success and now a once dominant franchise is stuck in a rut with very little assets to work with.
The Lakers have been trying to add assets to their team the past few years, but have struck out in the process. This is a byproduct when you make poor front office choices and give away your young assets and gamble on older —seemingly more developed— talent.
Back in 2012 the Lakers decided to trade for Steve Nash to quite the frustrations of the vocal fan base. The Lakers organization gave the Phoenix Suns four draft picks— first rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second rounders in 2013 and 2014.
Fast-forward to later that off-season, in August of 2012, the Lakers traded for another Orlando Magic center hoping to recreate another Shaquille O’Neal story line complete with multiple championships. The biggest problem with that trade was the amount of assets given up in that trade. It depleted the Laker organization even further, taking Andrew Bynum, a conditional first round in 2017, and a conditional second round in 2015.
Not only have the Lakers given away most of their draft picks over the past few years, they keep using a broken down, and despised Kobe Bryant to try and sign more free agents. The fault in this error is simple; max players do not want to play second fiddle- speaking in terms of media attention- to a player that has all the hype and past play, but is too broken down in current career situation to play to the franchise needs and expectations. Additionally, it could very well be his last year in the NBA so using his presence in free-agent meetings is not the best strategy.
Players like Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, LeMarcus Aldrigde, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Greg Monroe (and more) wanted to play for a team with assets already in place; they wanted to come in right away in order to get a return on their own investment in the form of a championship. The Problem for the Lakers –they have none.
When you give away your younger talent in exchange for few and older players, it is only a matter of time before you completely deplete your organization. So the Lakers need to be patient and not try to speed this process up. The great Mr. Laker sure knows this process oh so well… just look at the Golden State Warriors. Jerry West’s resume speaks for itself as he has built championship team after championship team in a patient yet daring style. In just about any organization, or business- leadership starts at the top. The health of the organization is only as strong as the leader or leadership team in charge. And for the Laker organization, it could be a scary road ahead.