The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at a very interesting crossroads. Considering the age of the team, let’s call it a midlife crisis. After all, isn’t midlife crisis about realizing one’s mortality and diminished strength due to increased age? If mortality for the Lakers is defined by life after Kobe Bryant, then the term fits quite nicely.
Almost too well. Acquiring Dwight Howard in the misguided belief that he would stay in Los Angeles, is nothing short of the guy in his mid 50’s buying an expensive sports car in an attempt to recapture his youth. To be fair to the Lakers, Dwight took them farther than Andrew Bynum would have, by virtue of breathing air and being on the floor. But since when has a 7th seed and a first round exit ever been enough for Los Angeles?
I’m not very good at playing general manager but there is one truth about the Lakers. They need to face reality. They can’t win a title next year. They are not even close to being considered contenders. In fact, the Lakers would be fortunate to make the playoffs next year. They are instead engaged in the petty exercise of avoiding rebuilding. Which of course is ridiculous because all teams have to do it eventually. Yet with rumors that the great organization is eyeing Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony in 2014 one can’t help but think that they have learned nothing.
The Lakers should probably take the lumps that come with any amount of sustained success; and just suck for a little bit. I’m not saying tank per se but let nature take its course instead of constantly trying to drink from the fountain of youth by signing young stars in free agency. You think Carmelo is going to fix the Lakers? Nope. Not by himself anyway. Role players are going to be necessary to do anything of substance. Let’s not forget that Kobe Bryant, for all his wear and tear, has no intention of taking a pay cut. And that’s if Carmelo opts out next year at all.
For goodness sake’s just draft already! I mean if ever there was a year to build through the draft, 2014 would be it. For starters there’s next years draft prize Andrew Wiggins. If that doesn’t work out, there is Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, either of the Harrison twins and Dante Exum. The list of potential lottery picks goes on. There is a way to win this. A good team built from the ground up can have continued success, whereas going for the quick fix, a move the Lakers seem committed until the bitter end, will net them less. A lot less.
I’m not suggesting the Lakers tank. Nor do I suggest that they shouldn’t go after the big name free agents next season. What I am saying is that Mitch Kupchak trying to put together a “winning” team within the next two seasons is a mistake. At best it is fan service. Not unless you actually think the offseason additions of Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman and Nick Young make the Lakers contenders. Because it doesn’t.
Whatever decision they make it needs to be the right one. It will affect the course of this organization for years to come.