The Los Angeles Lakers’ season is officially over as even LeBron James confirmed the team will relook at the rotation and resting of players. While James said he will not sit the rest of the games of the season, there will be some attempts by the top management to convince him to do otherwise as he can look to the longest off-season in his last decade as the Lakers miss the playoffs.
So question is now, should the Lakers go back to tanking? Short answer? Yes. There is no point of doing anything else. This season would have only been a success if they had made it to the playoffs and been reasonably competitive in it even if it was to be a first round exit. But with that out of the window this season has to be chalked up as a loss.
But the front office cant pack up and wait for the off season. The work begins today and the best thing that could happen for the Lakers is an off season trade for Anthony Davis.
Lakers Twitter has now pivoted to Team Tank. Come on over Zion!
— Gear 4 Durantman (@Dezdrew) March 6, 2019
Didn't think I would get to this point this season but, ZION TO THE LAKERS THE TANK IS ALIVE
— Mauricio (@Mauricio24) March 5, 2019
The Lakers were reportedly okay with giving up pretty much everything to get Davis. It wasn’t enough for the Pels in the middle of the season and while it might be enough in the off season, given the Celtics predicament with high chances of Kyrie making a dash, it can not hurt the Lakers to add to that package in case needed.
Lakers currently hold the 12th worst record in the league after the Timberwolves won today against the Thunder. At this position a top-4 pick is only a 6.2% possibility. But move down 5 spots to the 7th position and that percentage goes from 6.2% to 32%. A one in three shot to land a top-4 pick is not a bad position to be in.
While the top pick would still be a tough ask with 7.5% shot at the 7th worst position, its worth noting that this is a higher chance at no.1 than their current position gives them at getting a top-4 pick.
Getting to a 7th position form the bottom isn’t that tough an ask either. Shut down Ingram, LeBron and Kuzma and you can pretend to be giving young players an opportunity (even though they’re most likely going to be traded this off season) while losing most games easily.
The teams between the Lakers at 12 and Wizards are Miami, New Orleans, Orlando and Dallas. Miami and Orlando are trying to win as many as they can as they fight for a play-off birth in the East.
New Orleans is still playing Davis, Randle and Holiday. So they are bound to win some games. Given their recent big wins over the high flying Utaz Jazz and Denver Nuggets, you can’t expect the Pels to lose more than a Lakers team without LeBron and Ingram.
Dallas is a team that could’ve gone full tank mode early, but thats not the Rick Carlisle way and with Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, Mavs aren’t actively tanking even if they aren’t playing as well as they were earlier in the season. Passing them wont be easy, but it wont be very tough either given they are only 2.5 games behind the Lakers.
Washington team is still pretending to be competitive, driven by amazing performances by Bradley Beal (stuck in the worst possible scenario of all All-Stars this season. Thanks John Wall and his crazy extension). Even they are only 3.5 games behind the Lakers.
To make this argument more solid, look at the Lakers upcoming schedule. They have only 5 games against non-playoff teams out of the 18 games. Non-playoff opponents include Pelicans, Wizards, Kings, Knicks and Bulls.
They have the 28th toughest schedule left. Dropping games against Pels, Wizards and Kings would help get lower on the draft order at the expense of those teams.<
While tanking is never fun for an organization starting the season with play-off hopes as the bare minimum, the Lakers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. And the only way out is to have a great off-season.
Part of that has to be about stock piling assets to trade for better talent and while more losing this season will make the Lakers a laughing stock in the NBA, its not like they are doing any better on that front at the moment, so might as well use that to the benefit of the future.