The Los Angeles Lakers Can Contend Next Season

By Ross Lawson
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 season has hit Los Angeles Lakers fans like a right hook from Mike Tyson. Kobe Bryant broke down —again. Steve Nash just played his seventh  game, one more than Bryant, and the Lakers are in an unfamiliar place in the West — namely, last. These are dark times in Laker Land, but the darkest hour comes just before the dawn.

Hence, daylight is right around the corner.

Similar to the last championship run, the next one must start with a Pau Gasol trade. This time, however, there is no discount for him. Therefore, a draft pick and an expiring contract is the price of entry. Gasol is still a good player, but the Lakers need assets.

If you played NBA Live Franchise mode you’ll remember that you could progressively trade  players and eventually end up with stars like Ray Allen and Tracy McGrady. Most GMs are too smart to let it go that far, but Gasol can still net a 2014 mid-first round pick.

Regardless of where the Lakers pick in the draft, they’ll still add one of the best shooting guards to their roster next season. Bryant’s injuries are a blessing in disguise; he won’t waste his energy on a futile playoff push. Therefore, he’ll be rested for next season.

Add Bryant and the eventual Gasol pick to the potential top three pick redeemed for the Lakers’ woeful record this season and Jim Buss could look like Danny Ocean. He masterminded a plan that let the Lakers tank without tanking and left cap space for a max-salary player.

If the Lakers’ starting lineup for the first game of the 2014-15 season includes Nash, Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Jabari Parker/Andrew Wiggins/Joel Embiid, Buss will be completely forgiven for the last two seasons.

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