The Los Angeles Lakers don’t look to be in a good spot right now, that is for sure. Not with their old, petulant, washed up former superstar signed to a ludicrous contract extension, unstable leadership from ownership, a lame duck coach, and a dreadful roster. Having said all of that, the Lakers will probably be back sooner rather than later.
The city of Los Angeles will always be a significant attraction for many players looking to play in the Hollywood spotlight, warm climate, and opportunity to play for the 2nd greatest franchise in the NBA. Those will always be trump cards for the Lakers, they don’t have to recruit so much as just being who they are, which will be enough for some players to join them.
With their lucrative television contract, the organization can withstand the tax penalty much easier than the majority of other teams in the NBA. Jeannie Buss, who hopefully for Lakers fans, can push aside her brother Jim, is an accomplished marketer and savvy business woman, in the mold of her legendary father. As long as she can remain in charge of her side of the organization, and hopefully nudge aside her brother for someone much more accomplished (which shouldn’t be hard), the Lakers will be already in a much better spot.
They also, much like the Celtics, will be in good position for high draft picks the next couple years, which they can use for either picking their own players, or using the picks as trade bait. Mitch Kupchak is an accomplished general manager, having learned aside one of the best of all time in Jerry West, and if he can keep Jim Buss at arms length, and do his job without any influence from the incompetent Buss, they may have a shot of getting better sooner than expected.
The next few free agent classes are going to include some unbelievable players, including Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love. It would be remarkable if the Lakers didn’t end up with at least one of those players. The lure of getting the opportunity to compete for a championship with the glam franchise of the NBA, will be too tough for some players to pass up.
One thing that will help out tremendously is that they will be out from Kobe Bryant’s contract in two more years. The Lakers free agent chances are much greater once the enigmatic Bryant leaves the organization- why would any incoming player in his prime want to take a backseat to someone who can’t play much anymore? Bryant’s over the top competitiveness and selfishness will make it hard to get players to come on board with him these next two years. Even in his twilight, he wouldn’t be willing to cede the spotlight to anyone else (which is kind of ironic, considering that is why he wanted Shaq to leave). Additionally, the Lakers will be out from Steve Nash’s contract after next year, which is great for them, because they don’t have to cringe thinking they spent that much money for someone to have little to no impact on the organization.
The Lakers, with their resources and legendary status will be back to competing for championships within 5 years. Just as long as Jim Buss isn’t involved in the important decisions.