With only a week left in the nightmare season of the Los Angeles Lakers, fans have been looking forward to the offseason since before the all-star break. With the season lost, some critics along with fans have suggested the team tank the season but is that really necessary?
Let’s face it; this season has been a disaster for the Lakers. A season plagued by injuries combined with blockbuster deals gone bad, have put LA in the lower-tier of the league with a (20-57) record, their worst since the 1957-58 season while they were still in Minneapolis.
With only a week left in the regular season, the end can’t come any sooner for the Laker faithful.
You know it’s bad when even Head Coach Byron Scott doesn’t trust his own players. In reference to comments he made after practice on Monday where he said, “I wouldn’t want to be in a fox hole with them. They’d probably end up shooting me in the back.”
This season has been so bad, questions have been raised as to whether or not the team has decided to “tank” the rest of the season.
Now for those who don’t get tanking, it is when a team knows there will be no postseason for them, so they decide to intentionally lose games in hopes of getting a better draft pick in the NBA lottery. That’s right, they lose on PURPOSE.
This controversial tactic seems to make sense given the current state of the organization. So let’s break it down.
In the summer of 2013, LA traded their 2013 first-rounder along with protected first-rounders from 2015-2018 to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, who then traded the rights of their 2015 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
There is a catch however; the Lakers will be able to retain their 2015 first-round pick if they finish the season with a top five pick in the draft lottery.
Right now they have the fourth worst record and will most likely hold that spot with only five games left in the season, increasing their chances of keeping their top five pick to 82.8 percent as opposed to only 55.3 percent if they were to somehow drop down to fifth worst in the league.
What could possibly make the Los Angeles Lakers, arguably the greatest franchise in sports, want to purposely lose the rest of their games after an already horrendous season? The answer is nothing because they aren’t tanking and there are several reasons why.
First off in order to tank, that means that the team would have to have the ability to win games in the first place.
Right now, they have the fourth-worst record in the league and haven’t put together anything better than a three game win streak all season. Asking a team to tank that can barely win on their best day anyway just seems a bit unnecessary.
Another reason being is the fact that the bulk of the Laker roster, especially those playing right now, are not signed through next season.
This means these guys are looking to get re-signed, if not with the Lakers than with another team. For these athletes, this is their livelihood so how they provide for their families. There is no way you can tell a bunch of guys who’ve been competitive all their life, to go out and not play to their full potential especially when their jobs are at stake.
Finally, the last reason the Lakers aren’t tanking is because no good can result from it. Say they purposely do lose out and get the top five pick; they are still going to have to give up their first-round pick next year anyway.
Even Jeannie Bus, president of Basketball Operations for the Lakers has sounded off on the tanking fiasco.
“I think it’s impossible to tell your coach and tell your players, ’Try not to win.’ That goes against everything this organization is about.”
Yes this Laker season has been a disaster and only time will tell how long it will take to get back into contention. But with a high draft pick inevitably on the way this off season, 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle coming back and a whole lot of cap space before a summer loaded with free agency, things can turn around quickly for Laker Nation.
Oh and there’s one more thing, The Black Mamba is coming back. If there is one guy that can help turn the tide of the Laker organization, it is Kobe Bryant.