Los Angeles California, the city of bright lights and celebrities. Palm trees everywhere, sun shining, and championship banners raising. A fan base used to winning; used to bragging about how good they are on a year to year basis. For Los Angeles Laker fans, it’s the first time in a long time there is nothing to brag about. There’s nothing to smile about. For God’s sake, the Los Angeles Clippers are better than the Lakers.
The Lakers are the most irrelevant team in LA right now. The Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup. The L.A. Angels are loaded with star power, led by Mike Trout. The Dodgers are struggling but they too are loaded with fire power. Lastly, the stadium rival Clippers are not only better than the Lakers, but have Donald Sterling taking up the headlines. And for once in the Lakers glorious history they don’t want to be in the headlines because of how embarrassing they truly are.
The Lakers had the worst season in franchise history last season. There was friction between the family members of the Buss family, as they struggled to run the team on their own since the great Dr. Jerry Buss passed. Coach Mike D’Antoni was overwhelmed with the pressures that takes place in LA, eventually resulting in him resigning. Kobe Bryant only played in six games as he battled back from injury which left the Lakers roster with players on one year contracts looking to prove themselves. Most of them only wanted to showcase their offense, allowing opponent after opponent to blow right around them for an easy bucket.
So the nightmare ended, and Mike D’Antoni resigned (Thank God!), but what is next for the Lakers? For starters, the NBA Draft is right around the corner. With the number seven overall pick in the draft, it is unlikely the Lakers will draft a superstar that Kobe can pass the torch to. What the Lakers can do is draft a solid player with high potential. Players that might be available are: Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, and Kentucky forward Julius Randle.
It will be important for the Lakers to use their highest draft pick since 2005 wisely. Stockpiling young talent will surely be the first step in rebuilding the Lakers.
Los Angeles will also need to pursue free agents. Aggressively. The Lakers are at a unique point in franchise history. After years of playing for championships, it seems like the Lakers are starting over from scratch. They need to make the decision on whether they will go for it all now, and target big name free agents, or start to build a foundation with serviceable pieces.
With this summer’s free agent class up in the air, there is big question mark about which big name free agents will even be available. Lebron, Wade, and Bosh have had success in Miami reaching the NBA Finals for four consecutive years and likely will stay in Miami. Carmelo Anthony doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project, which will be the driving force in his decision if he decides to leave the Knicks. That makes him landing in Los Angeles a long shot.
The Lakers will most likely have to wait until next offseason with the hope that Kevin Love is still interested in coming home. That will leave the Lakers in a similar situation they were in this year; a roster full of players on one-year contracts, with no sense of Laker pride.
We haven’t even addressed the Lakers head coaching vacancy. Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, and Mike Dunleavy have been linked to the job. But at this point it really doesn’t matter if the Lakers don’t have any pieces to build around.
Kobe is under contract for two more seasons and will likely retire afterwards. He has expressed a desire to win another ring before he hangs them up, but as the days go by those chances are looking smaller and smaller.
The Lakers have always pulled off unbelievable trades and signed the top free agents. The Lakers will need all of that kind of magic and more if they plan on being a contender sooner rather than later. Lakers fans buckle your seat belt, it looks to be a long summer and bumpy ride back to the promise land.