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Lakers Future: What Happens Next?

The future is always a mystery. No matter what we try to do or how hard we try, it always comes for all of us and in that way we are all the same. The difference is we either embrace it or deny its very existence. What the Lakers are doing this season seems to favor the notion of the latter to the average eye.

In case you might have missed it, Kobe Bryant is retiring after this season. I would be baffled as to how you might have missed it but I suppose there is always a chance you threw your TV out of the window.

The Black Mamba has been playing professional basketball for 20 seasons and competitively for even longer than that. For many people, doing anything for 20 years seems odd in this day in age where change is more frequent than not. Kobe was very lucky to not sustain major injury for most of his career and it is only because of the increasing frequency of these injuries lately that have sped up the date of his retirement. Even in my own eye, I still believe that Kobe Bryant could contribute to a team that is trying to win a championship. The Black Mamba went toe to toe with James Harden yesterday in Houston and it was classic Kobe. Los Angeles lost, however, despite Kobe’s great performance. A Lakers loss barely even moves the needle in the news cycle because of how frequent it has become over the past few years.

In your praise for Kobe and admiration for his career, I am sure it was easy to lose sight that the loss was the 64th of the season for the team. The Lakers have lost 180 games in the last 3 seasons for an average of 60 losses a season. A franchise that has 16 World Championships and countless Hall of Fame inductees is the same franchise that has 27 home losses this season. The last time the Lakers won the NBA title was back in 2010. In 2010, the Lakers had Pau Gasol, Kobe, Metta World Peace and a stable core. Now, the Lakers have lost 60+ games yet again and their 2nd overall pick has alienated himself within the franchise.

Kobe will retire after the game Wednesday night in Los Angeles and the fanfare will be incredible I have no doubt in my mind.

What happens after the game for the Lakers though? The losses do secure them the worst record in the Western Conference and almost assuredly a top 3 pick in the draft, but is that enough? Look at the roster and point to me something that you can build around besides the guy that everyone hates. Julius Randle missed his rookie season due to injury but hasn’t shown me anything this season that I can point to and feel confident building around. What free agent wants to come to Los Angeles with this mess right now? Kobe retiring will allow some free agents to come and be the top dog but even if they snatch a big name, management seems clearly unprepared to build a consistent winner. Where is the talent and development for this franchise?

Everybody goes through droughts and downfalls, but a franchise like the Lakers should never be THIS bad. Los Angeles is almost Philly bad right now and that is pretty terrible. For all the talk of the Warriors beating the Bulls record for regular season wins, the 76ers have barely avoided setting a new record for losses in a season despite losing 70 games. The Lakers shuffle coaches more often than a game of Texas Hold ‘Em and you cannot build consistency with that type of trigger finger. How do you expect Byron Scott to develop the Lakers talent if you are not really having him out there doing that? Scott is just in Los Angeles to be a figurehead for the farewell tour of Kobe Bryant.

It is really hard to look at the Lakers roster now and see a coaching staff with a core that you can build around. What are the other solutions you might ask? Well, I would not necessarily say trade pieces to get more draft picks and hire a solid coaching staff because that would take a few more years. However, that is EXACTLY what I am saying. If I was the Lakers I would have a fire sale and move on from this era and then look to find a solid coach. The coach you hire now might not be the coach of the future but he will be the stabilizing force that grooms the high draft picks you accumulate through the fire sale.

Congratulations to Kobe on the success in his career and I hope he enjoys the last game. However, Laker nation I would be scared about waking up to the reality that is the day after.

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