Lakers Should Focus on the 2014 Draft and the 2015 Free Agent Class


It’s a pretty well-known fact that the Lakers are in ‘rebuilding mode’. No matter how you want to argue against it, you know it’s true.

The Kobe Bryant era has two more years left (hopefully) and Lakers fans everywhere have to come to terms with that now (somehow). While the demand for perfection that Kobe himself has always striven toward will be gone soon, he’ll leave a standard that all Lakers fans will expect their new superstar player to live up to.

Whoever becomes the new head coach of ‘the purple and gold’ will have to come to realize that he’s really there for the future. Yes–he needs to get the best out of Bryant for the the next two years and be competitive in an already loaded Western Conference. Whether it’s Alvin Gentry, Kurt Rambis, or Byron Scott, the new coach will have to right the ship immediately. That being said, the reality is that the Lakers will have a hard time being a championship contender before Bryant retires–unless they pull off some ‘dream scenario’ in which LeBron James AND Kevin Love come to LA. Whoever fills out the roster, whether the Lakers retain players like Nick Young, Kent Bazemore, Jordan Farmar, or entirely new faces are brought in–it’s going to be about the future.

So they need to starting thinking about that future now.

That ‘dream scenario’ sounds nice and all, but the Lakers shouldn’t be waiting around hoping for Kevin Love or deciding if some big free agent, like LeBron (if he opts out) or Carmelo Anthony, will decide that Los Angeles is a great place to play (which it is), and join Bryant for his ‘last ride’.

With the draft coming up, the Lakers should keep their first round pick (seventh overall) and make good use of it. Since the draft last year, the talk has been that this is one of the deepest and most talented drafts in recent years. There are a plethora of players that have the potential to evolve into a franchise player, and there are some that are ready to take on that role. What the Lakers need is someone to develop into a franchise player after two years under Bryant’s tutelage.

Don’t get me wrong, Love would be a great addition to the Lakers’ roster and could give them a force on the inside that can compete with the likes of LeBron, Kevin Durant and others. But this game of him wanting a trade, him not wanting a trade, the Timberwolves not trading him then wanting to trade him, is getting old. The most likely scenario is that the Wolves keep Love and try to make a trade during the season at the deadline.

Because of that, this is why the Lakers need to focus on the draft. There could very well be a surprise like there was last year when the Cavaliers drafted Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. If one of those players that has true franchise-changing potential drops in their laps, the Lakers will not need to wait that long to be competitive again.

Can you imagine if the Lakers somehow had Jabari Parker or Dante Exum or Julius Randle fall to them? Can you imagine Bryant molding this young star into the next Kobe or Michael Jordan? ‘Bryant and Parker’ does have a nice ring to it.

But the Lakers can’t stop there.

They should forget about Carmelo this summer. Putting him and Bryant together isn’t going to work. Plus with the report that the Miami Heat are gonna make a play for Anthony, the Lakers would have stiff competition anyway.

Everyone knows it’s a long shot, but with the potential that only Bryant’s contract will be on the books next off-season, the Lakers can spend and spend A LOT. Players like James and Durant will be there (potentially). No one can deny that the idea of playing under the bright lights of Hollywood is something they can entirely ignore. Those key free agents will be lying if they said they had never considered the possibility of playing for the Lakers.

Just picture it: Bryant wearing 24 for the last time. Behind him, either James or Durant rolls out with the Lakers’ 2014 draft pick. Bryant will leave his legacy in good hands there. This is why the Lakers have to continue being patient and fans everywhere have to understand that. Remember what happened last time we got a superstar center to come to the Lakers?

It takes patience to get a team back to ‘the promised land’. This isn’t something that can be done with a snap of your fingers–even though it seems like the Lakers have done that before. The Lakers need to start making the right moves for the future now, so that they’ll fall into place just as Bryant is leaving in two years.

If the Lakers follow that plan, they will return to their glory days sooner rather than later.