By winning percentage, the 2014-15 Lakers will go down as the worst team in the history of the storied franchise. What we’ve all been thinking for the last three months is finally official: this was the worst Laker team ever. The purple and gold have hit a new low.
Granted, the Lakers have long been a perennial powerhouse in the league, so saying “the worst Laker team ever” is kind of like saying “the dumbest Nobel Prize winner ever.”
Still, though, it has to warrant mentioning that the league’s most glamorous franchise just completed it’s worst season in the history of the team. No matter how much you try and sugarcoat it with fancy metaphors, that’s never a good thing.
So where do they go from here?
Kobe’s still under contract for one more season on that dinosaur of a deal that’ll pay him $25 million, one of the few pacts left in the league that was technically negotiated under the old CBA.
That will make it tough to clear enough cap space to get two max free agents — the most space they could clear without the help of trades is about $30 million, enough for only one max deal — but if anyone can figure out how to do finagle their way into some free agents, history tells us it’s probably the Lakers.
Teams employ entire departments dedicated to finding creative ways to manage the cap. They’ll likely try anything and everything they can.
Things like shopping Nick Young around, despite the fact that they just signed him to an extension last offseason. Things like declining every last one of their contractual team options, leaving them with only four players on their roster going into next year.
Or maybe things like trying to convince Kobe to retire, if they find that to be in their best interests. Nothing is off the table for this front office at this point.
They may even dangle their lofty draft pick around the league, provided they actually have it to dangle. They’re currently in position to receive the fourth pick, but if they get leapfrogged by a couple teams in the lottery and fall out the top five, their pick will transfer to Philadelphia and their disaster of a season will have been completely in vain, as opposed to just mostly.
The Lakers could always just reload on one-year deals and position themselves for a mass spending spree next summer — when the cap is expected to sky-rocket thanks to an influx in TV money — but that would likely mean another lean season.
Perhaps another historically lean season. How much more losing will the proud Laker faithful tolerate? What is the breaking point? Will the Clippers ever threaten to surpass them in popularity?
Depending on what Jimmy Buss and the Bussettes do this summer, we may get to find out. Stay tuned.