The most interesting thing left this season for the Los Angeles Lakers seems to be the feud between Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni. However, looking into the near future, becoming better and a contender in two years isn’t as automatic as some may think.
This season is a disappointment, but a pill people can bite. Despite Kobe Bryant and Mitch Kupchak talking before this season about the Lakers never tanking and always thinking about winning the NBA championship, only their most delusional fans they were going to make the playoffs. Because of their bad team, and because the West is extremely difficult compared to the mostly pathetic East.
But there is a darker side to the West – the Kings, the Jazz (because of that awful start) and now the Lakers, who at 19-39 have the worst record in the conference and are on pace to have the worst season since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.
One bad year, especially when it was more or less expected, is something everyone can live with. Just look at the San Antonio Spurs a 50-win team with David Robinson until his injury during the 1996-1997 season. He went down, they went through an abysmal year and landed Tim Duncan in the next draft. The result? Four NBA titles, five NBA finals and over 15 years of consistent success, which is pretty much all you can ask for.
There are the voices saying that a franchise with the Lakers’ history can’t stay down for long. They’ll have cap space to improve next season, and in 2015 will be even better positioned to sign a superstar and be back in contention. A team with the kind of resources, tradition and playing in such a huge market can’t stay a failure for long, can it?
But it’s not the name of the team that matters is something Lakers fans and all those automatically backing them to be back at the pinnacle of the profession are forgetting. This is a GMs league, which means the Lakers will only be good as the people running it are. The New York Knicks play in the number one market in the country, but have been mostly a failure for almost 15 years. In the last 13 seasons, they’ve only won one playoff series, and finished with an above .500 record four times. The name, the market – they didn’t help cover up for awful management and decision making by the front office.
People think of Kobe Bryant and forget that when next season begins, he’ll be a 36 year old player eating close to half of the salary cap after playing only six games in 2013-2014. Maybe he’ll play a few more by the time this season ends, but why risk him getting injured again?
And there’s a head coach no one is really pleased with, but everyone knows won’t be fired until this team is a bit closer to contending. A lot can happen with the right draft pick and moves in free agency, but that’s the bottom line: The Lakers actually need the right people to make the right decisions for them, and everything that’s happened since winning the NBA title in 2010 points to the exact opposite: That the people running this team aren’t necessarily going to make the choices that will benefit with the franchise this offseason.