Let’s get this out of the way first: the LA Lakers are indeed *bad*. On perhaps historic levels, for this proud franchise. But they’re not – as Ryen Russillo recently ranted – “the worst team in the league”. To continue with the honesty – it wouldn’t particularly bother me if they were. I love the SVP/Russillo show, but on this: he’s wrong.
Sure, the Lakers are mired in struggle. And yes, a very large part of these struggles can be put on the doorstep of one Kobe Bean Bryant, but not for his play this season. I have a theory on this, and it’s related to Kobe’s contract. I had hoped that he’d go for the massive discount. It was a hope that was in part fueled by similar actions by Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki – take a smaller contract to allow the team to put better talent on the floor… but it was also a hope fueled by an equal amount of *wishful thinking*. Part of me knew this wasn’t going to happen. And as soon as it did, I think the LA front office nodded their collective heads… and set about putting a team on the floor that would lose, and lose badly.
LA are in rebuild mode, looking for a good draft pick – perhaps in a very similar vein to Philadelphia. There’s just been no memo to number 24. This is a very, very difficult thing to do – tank, whilst avoiding the absolute nuts Chicken Little response the average Lakerfan will proceed with should the tank become obvious. Basically, Kobe’s pretty much assured (through taking that contract) that the Lakers will indeed be in rebuild mode for the duration of his remaining time in LA. Sad, really. But kind of amazing that no-one in the savvy sports media is proffering this as a scenario.
This all on the table, if I were a betting man (ok, full disclosure – I have been known to drop the odd $$$ on a bit of online blackjack!) I’d hazard a bet that they’ll not finish as the worst team in the NBA. I’m confident the aforementioned Philly finish lower, and I’d be keeping a watch on both Minnesota and Denver to fall in a screaming heap too. But bad? Bring it on. Julius Randle may not be a savior of the franchise, but I’d love to see him suit up beside Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Townes. Yup, bad. Undoubtedly worse than last season. Let’s go.
However, Russillo asserts “worst”… and part of me believes that’s his Boston tones reasserting themselves (I know he’d deny that vehemently if ever that was said… or more likely just scoff). They will get the odd win tho’, and enough to keep ’em out of the *absolute-worst* category. Next win? Well, there are a string of losses heading up (more finger-pointing from the media?), but I think a wise bet could be made on the Lakers beating Denver, next Sunday (Nov. 23rd). There’s my tip… let’s see how it plays out.