Byron Scott was a former Laker too, of course. However his pedigree — and approach — was from a different era. Walton gives the Lakers both a new narrative and a new vision, one plucked straight from the most forward-thinking organization in the league. Prior to 2015-16, the Lakers’ nascent analytics department predicted the team would win between 20 and 30 games. The team needed outside shooting, to space the floor and better defenders. It was a roster problem as much as a philosophical one. Walton can’t fix all of that himself, but he can embrace the need to evolve. That vision is what the Lakers have been pitching to free agents the past two summers. The life, the city, the Lakers mystique. It’s been a tough sell to free agents who care more about the talent on the roster, the system and the maximum contract.
President of basketball operations Jim Buss has said he’ll step down after next season if he can’t get the franchise headed in “the right direction.” He has never wavered from that timeline, nor has his sister Jeanie Buss, the Lakers president, ever let up in holding him to it. General manager Mitch Kupchak’s contract runs several years beyond next season, but it’s hard to imagine him continuing in his role if Jim Buss were to step down.