Rebuild with an Injection
As of the writing of this post, the LA Lakers’ record stands at 10-22. The season has had some bright spots with triple doubles, game winners, and a historic climb up the all-time scoring list. These bright spots are just that: bright spots in a dark and gloomy season. This team will struggle to top the record of last year, 27-55, which was the worst season in LA Lakers history.
Projecting the future does have its hazards also. Their young lottery pick, Julius Randle, will miss the entire season due to a fractured leg. The team owes a top 5 protected draft pick this season to Phoenix from the Steve Nash trade. Kobe will be one season older.
All is not lost though. When the negative is viewed in an appropriate light, you start to see that the future possibilities are much brighter. The Lakers are currently projected to go into next year with $36 million in salary obligations. Trying to project the NBA salary cap is never an easy task, but with the new NBA TV deal, this becomes an even more difficult proposition. Because of this, this article will not focus on specific numbers and the CBA gymnastics necessary but it appears likely that the Lakers will be a player in free agency.
When you start to look at some of the omens around the league, you get an even brighter picture of the Lakers future. There are a lot of grumblings coming out of Cleveland about the poor start that the Cavs have amassed. You now have denials of unclear video. It does not take much to envision Kevin Love leaving Cleveland in free agency with a return to southern California. This is the first and most necessary domino to fall for an illuminated Lakers future.
You can then match Love with either Marc Gasol or Greg Monroe. Obviously, Gasol would be the bigger prize but Monroe would not be a bad consolation prize. The next piece to fall would be point guard. Rajon Rondo would be a free agent. There appears to be a more than professional relationship between Rondo, Love and Kobe. Now, the Lakers are not in an all or nothing pursuit of Rondo. There are other options such as Goran Dragic, Patrick Beverly, and Reggie Jackson, with the last two being restricted free agents. These would be nice consolation prizes if they missed on Rondo.
If this scenario falls into place, the Lakers may receive a top 5 pick as the fruits of this horrible season. If that occurs, it is possible they end up with Stanley Johnson, another SoCal kid. This puts out the below projected starting line-up.
PG: Rondo/ Dragic/ Beverly/ Jackson
SF: Stanley Johnson
C: Gasol/ Monroe
This line-up would work on multiple levels for the Lakers. Immediately, this would allow Kobe to compete for a 6th ring in a possible last season before retirement. Also, it provides a clear line of succession with Love being the recipient and being properly supported. It allows the Lakers to develop a foundation of young talent with Randle and Stanley Johnson honing their craft.