Just when we assume the Los Angeles Lakers have lost their lust when attracting players, reports break that top prospects Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and Joel Embiid all have expressed interest in playing for the franchise. As Los Angeles will more than likely be presented with a shot at landing one of these players, this is some much-needed encouraging news for both the fans and organization.
Facing a franchise-worst season, management will certainly look to move in a different direction regarding leadership, personnel and staff. Beginning with the coaching staff, despite numerous reports the Lakers are leaning toward retaining Mike D’Antoni, there is a very slim chance he is on the sideline next season. It is an overdue move which must take place if this franchise plans on accelerating the rebuilding process at all. Eating the final year on D’Antoni’s contract shouldn’t be much of an issue, because in retrospect, $4 million isn’t much considering the team is a billion-dollar club.
Secondly, there needs to be more leadership on this team. Yes, of course Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol have not been physically present much due to injuries, but this leadership issue starts at the top in ownership. Is Jim Buss or Jeanie Buss going to be making the basketball-related decisions? Who is better equipped to make these decisions? Unfortunately, we will not have answers to these type of questions because of the lack of communication between the brother and sister duo. Perhaps with Phil Jackson out of the picture, at least for now, both Buss siblings will be able to come to some sort of meeting ground where they can resolve the franchise’s problems together. However, until that day occurs, the turmoil will continuously occur.
Last and most importantly, personnel changes must take place in order for Los Angeles to dig themselves out of conversations centered on tanking, losing, etc. To do this, they must in fact build through the draft. Coincidentally, the Lakers have picked the absolute best year to begin this process. Numerous prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft have tremendous potential of eventually becoming future All-Star-caliber players. Basically, any pick within the top seven should secure an immediately impactful player.
Youth is something Los Angeles has desperately missed while of contending status. Contrarily, this year, the team acquired too much youth, resulting in an apocalypse of a season. To remain competitive for years to come, the team must find a healthy middle-ground of elite young talent mixed with elite veterans who can show the young fellas the ropes. Names like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are perfect fits to do just that.
Therefore, relying on 2015 free agency to acquire a superstar talent is foolish — plain and simple. Management only has so much pull in controlling how free agency can pan out, but in the draft, the ball is in the Lakers’ court, so to speak, as they can personally select any player of their choosing. Of course, if the opportunity presented itself of acquiring Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo in 2015, Los Angeles must go all in. As of today, though, focusing on an offseason a year away rather than a draft a few months away makes no sense whatsoever. It’s all speculation at this point.