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In need of a revolution

The Lakers are too focused on gathering expensive, veteran players instead of developing their draft picks.

Kobe+Bryant+wipes+away+some+sweat+in+the+first+quarter+against+the+Golden+State+Warriors+at+Oracle+Arena+in+Oakland%2C+Calif.%2C+Saturday%2C+Nov.+1%2C+2014.+
Kobe Bryant wipes away some sweat in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

Kobe Bryant wipes away some sweat in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

Anda Chu / MCT

Anda Chu / MCT

Kobe Bryant wipes away some sweat in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.

Zachary Weber, Contributing Writer

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Evolution is something the Los Angeles Lakers have neglected.

In years past, the Lakers would trade their picks for superstar players like Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. They would always steal other teams’ best players in free agency and trade – like Pau Gasol and Shaq – who have helped the franchise win five championships.

Their history is as good as it gets with 16 championships, 31 conference titles, 23 division titles and nine retired jersey numbers.

But that was then; this is a new age for the NBA.

The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) limits the amount of money teams can spend on player contracts, which helps maintain competitive balance in the league.

Right now, the Lakers are not a good basketball team. They are 0-4, and are giving up the most points in the entire league with 118 points allowed. The first 29 teams have allowed a range of 85-109 points.

Most of the blame goes to the front office, where the important decision-makers aren’t making very wise decisions.

Extending Kobe Bryant to a 2-year, $48 million contract, making him the highest paid player in the league, made absolutely no sense.

At the age of 36 and coming off a major injury, there was no reason to give Bryant that deal. The Lakers are a business, and good businesses don’t pay players for what they have done in the past.

They mortgaged their future by trading four draft picks for a then 38-year-old Steve Nash, which will ultimately set the franchise back. Plus, the Lakers can potentially lose their first-round pick in the 2015 draft because it was sent to the Phoenix Suns for Nash.

They even signed one-year deals (Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price and Xavier Henry) just so they could have flexibility to sign expensive star players.

By steering away from younger players and showing more interest in veteran players, the team is becoming a rental property – a franchise where players go for a year and move out the next. For example, Boozer and Ellington aren’t expected to be a part of the Lakers’ future because of their age and one-year deals.

Star players are less likely to jump onto another roster since signing with their current one can make them more money.

What the Lakers should consider is keeping their draft picks and helping them develop.

The teams that have sustained success in the NBA are the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls. Most of their players, including their star players, have been drafted and developed.

Their core players have all been drafted and brought up through the organization. Some of those players are Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from the Spurs. And the Bulls have developed Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

These types of teams do a really good job complementing their core players by signing free agents and helping draft picks grow, helping the franchise establish a great culture and foundation.

Building a culture starts from the top—with ownership—and trickles down to the players.

Since Dr. Jerry Buss passed away in 2013, his kids, Jim and Jeannie Buss, run the franchise. Jim is in charge of basketball operations and Jeannie is the president of business operations.

According to an article from businessknowhow.com, many family business consultants say that second-generation businesses fail because they don’t share the same drive and commitment that are needed to build the business from scratch.

The Lakers have a great culture and tradition that has started from ownership all the way down to the quality of the players. They were once a championship organization, one that almost every basketball player would dream of playing for.

If the Lakers don’t evolve, their fans can expect seasons like last year and the team’s bad streak will potentially continue.

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