The Los Angeles Lakers are beginning their 2013-14 campaign a season removed from a season which began with so much promise and expectations. Most Lakers fans have lost that winning feeling.
There is a touch of optimism on Opening Night at home against one of the facorites to win the West (the Los Angeles Clippers, Gasp). because there is still no record attached to the Los Angeles Lakers name. There is still opportunity and hope. But it could be short-lived.
The collection of veterans that the Lakers have signed would be a top team in the West as few as 3 seasons ago. But the Lakers are projected to finish between 13th and only as high as 7th in the Western Conference. The Lakers have only missed the playoffs 5 times ever. Is this the beginning of a disappointing season, or several?
Looking ahead, the Lakers roster should change drastically next year.
According to Rotoworld, scheduled to be Free Agents next season are Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Chris Kaman, Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant. That’s everyone but Steve Nash. Next season it will be Steve Nash vs the NBA.
The upcoming draft class is widely agreed to be a very deep draft. If the Lakers struggle and are in the Lottery, they could feasibly get a talented draft pick; or even more unusual they could deal one of their expiring contracts for additional draft picks. They will have all the cap space they require to sign coveted Free Agents. And they have a roster of players in contract years, that will fight hard to prove they can be part of the Lakers future. Even in a down year, it’s a future looking up.
But assembling individual parts does not guarantee success, compared to assembling and developing a cohesive team. Last season was not the outlier, it proved the rule. The stability of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Phil Jackson and even pre-bowling Andrew Bynum were the backbone for championships.
Even without Dwight Howard‘s production from a season ago, the Lakers will be improved in many facets due to the Super Distractions departure. But the Lakers will struggle. The future of the Lakers will depend on Mitch Kupchak‘s ability to put together a team, Mike D’Antoni’s (or whoever replaces him) ability to coach them, and Kobe’s willingness to partner with the new team, not dominate them.
But what if Kobe doesn’t resign with the Lakers? Welcome to the 2013-14 Lakers season
Is this the beginning of a disappointing era for Lakers Basketball?