Los Angeles Lakers Long-Term Future Isn't Looking Too Bright

By Lee Treble
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

“Moral victories are for minor league coaches” – Jay-Z

15-20, 26th in points allowed per game, 5-12 on the road and injuries galore. After 35 games, it seems that we have never gotten a complete look at a franchise once known for their standard of excellence. But now is not the time to harp on the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. Their long-term plans don’t look all that great either.

It all started when the Lakers traded for Steve Nash in July, hoping an upgrade a point guard would put the Lakers over the top. Nash’s three-year deal is for an estimated $27 million. In return, the Phoenix Suns get four draft picks — first rounders in 2013 and 2015 and second rounders in 2013 and 2014. That’s four draft picks for an aging 38-year old point guard without the Suns magical medical staff to repair him after games. They added Dwight Howard in a trade, inheriting his 19 million dollar a year salary, along with several free agents (Jodie Meeks, Antwan Jamison). What is the total balance of the Lakers’ payroll this year? $100 million dollars.

Unsurprisingly, the Lakers boast the highest payroll in the NBA at 100 million dollars, but have a 15-20 record to show for it.. That payroll includes paying Kobe Bryant 27 million dollars,  Howard 19 million dollars, Pau Gasol 19 million dollars, and Metta World Peace 7 million dollars. That’s 72 million dollars for four players, which is more than 20 NBA teams. In comparison, crosstown rivals Los Angeles Clippers’ total team salary for 2012-2013 is 72 million dollars. The return on investment for the Lakers is certainly on a bear market, as investors in the team are selling their stock for next season. But next season looks even worse.

Howard’s contract expires at the end of this year. His stock may have dropped significantly, due to a nagging back and shoulder injury, and his chances of re-signing with the Lakers doesn’t exactly excite anyone in the midst of a losing season.  Bryant, who has two years left on his contract, is playing at an MVP level, but it is not translating into wins. Laker panic is at an all-time high, as they are 11th in the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers are also paying fired coach Mike Brown the rest of his 10 million dollar salary as well as paying Mike D’Antoni 12 million dollars in the next 3 years. It was certainly a gamble to fire Brown 5 games into the season, but its even a bigger gamble to hire a coach mid-season and expect instant results with personnel that clearly doesn’t fit his system.

To recap: 100 million dollar player payroll, 22 million dollars in “head” coaching alone, no draft picks until 2016, Bryant retiring in two years, and Howard can leave after this season. The golden ages of Lakerprosperity are finally over.

Welcome to the Dark Ages.

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