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Stephen A. Smith argues everyone in the Los Angeles Lakers organization is to blame for their struggles

Stephen A.Smith believes LeBron is not the only one to blame for the struggles

Stephen A.Smith believes LeBron is not the only one to blame for the struggles

The Los Angeles Lakers quickly went from championship contender in the offseason to major bust through the All-Star break and despite Stephen Curry's 50-point performance in Sunday's All-Star Game, the hottest topic coming out of the weekend was LeBron James' comments regarding his future with the 17-time NBA Champion Lakers.

The blame should be on everyone 

"Wherever Bronny is at, that's where I'll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It's not about the money at that point." - LeBron James, The Athletic.

James will be a free agent after the 2022-2023 season, a year before his son Bronny, becomes eligible for the NBA Rookie Draft. LeBron's desire to play with his son signals his willingness to eventually leave Los Angeles and finish his career with another franchise. Coupled with Rob Pelinka's dishonesty regarding his decision not to make a trade at the deadline to try and improve the Lakers' chances of competing this season, the alarm bells are ringing in LA as LeBron's time there could be heading for a rather bitter ending.

The Lakers have struggled mightily this season, mainly due to the peculiar roster built by Rob Pelinka under the influence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Now, as the Lakers look to pick up the pieces of this mess, the recent moves of the Laker front office suggest that the blame is being shifted to the stars who signed off on these personnel decisions, instead of on themselves. HOWEVER, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN believes that the blame should go to all, not only some of the members of the Laker brain trust.

"Many people are culpable for the Lakers season, from LeBron James, a basketball savant not seeing that a player like Russell Westbrook would not be the ideal fit for this team. To Russell Westbrook for not playing up to the level that is expected of him, to Rob Pelinka for being the people pleaser and the nice guy in all of this." - Stephen A. Smith

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Smith's opinion on the matter is not far-fetched. Still, even though LeBron wanted Russ in LA despite the opportunity to get Buddy Hield, LeBron has made the necessary improvements to his game to accommodate Russ' playing style by playing off the ball more and generating more of his offense from beyond the arc. James is shooting more threes than he ever has in his career, and his improvement from deep is the reason why.

People love to blame LeBron

LeBron is averaging 29 points per game in his 19th season in the NBA. One can argue that the Westbrook trade would not happen if LeBron voted against it, but the fact of the matter is that LeBron adjusted his game to try to make it work. With James shooting well from three, Westbrook's playmaking ability should have brought a new dynamic to the Lakers' offense, allowing them to be dangerous throughout an entire NBA game, but that vision has not come to fruition.

The Lakers' woes on the defensive side of the ball are significantly more worrisome, going from being one of the best defensive teams in the league without Anthony Davis for most of last season to one of the worst. Losing a player like Alex Caruso is one of the main reasons the Lakers cannot stay in front of perimeter players, putting immense pressure on guys defending the rim to get stops. 

The Caruso mishap, of course, is not LeBron's fault. Unfortunately, this mess comes from Lakers owner Jeanie Buss' reluctance to go deeper into the luxury tax for one of the lone bright spots from last season's team and a critical piece in their 2020 championship run. In his recent segment for ESPN, Stephen A. Smith alludes to this, stressing that some of her management decisions from the top have left the Lakers a shell of the champions they once were.

People love to blame LeBron for his mistakes as a player, and as a decision-maker with every NBA franchise he is a part of, but the reality is that at the end of the day, it's not his job to make the final call when it comes to personnel matters. One can argue that he applies pressure to get what he wants and that people listen because he is a basketball savant, but it's not his call at the end of the day. Even if you're going to blame the Westbrook disaster on him, one can't argue the fact that he has held up his end of the bargain, working on his game to give the Lakers more high-level weapons on the floor like a relentless attacker and all-around player in Westbrook. 

It's time to shelve the narrative that LeBron is partly responsible for the Lakers' disappointing season because the deal may have been a mistake, but he is a basketball player that is playing exceptionally this season in a way that allows Russ to be Russ. LeBron has made many mistakes in his career, but this is certainly not one of them; this one is on Jeanie and Rob for failing to do their jobs.

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