Written By: Deepak Mangwani
Should the Lakers tank? Understandably so, you won’t find many fans that tell you they shouldn’t. Coming into the season, I was completely opposed to the idea of tanking. I kept telling people that the Lakers don’t tank and the Lakers don’t rebuild like other franchises have to. As the season has progressed and everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong, I still don’t think the decision to tank is as clear-cut as others are making it out to be.
The decision to tank or not to tank for the Lakers starts and ends with Kobe Bryant. The best way to insure the Lakers lose as many games as possible would be to somehow convince Kobe to sit out. As we all know, Kobe is not going to do that and we fans shouldn’t want him to either. First of all, some of the games this season have been unbearable to watch — the injuries have made them that way. Secondly, in my opinion, it is more important for Kobe to come back and show everyone that he can still play at a high level — only to prove to free agents that they would not be making a mistake in coming to LA this upcoming summer or the next.
It would be great to somehow end up with the next Kobe Bryant, Lebron James or Kevin Durant through the draft, but the odds of that happening are extremely low. It is a big gamble to bank on a high draft pick regardless of how stacked the incoming draft class is. Although the Lakers’ situation is different because the incoming rookie would come in to play second fiddle to Kobe or maybe even third if the Lakers sign a big name free agent, would big name free agents want to sign with the team without knowing what level Kobe will come back at? Or just to play with a rookie?
In my mind, a scenario where we fail to make the playoffs, but come close due to Kobe’s strong play is better than tanking. If the incoming draft class is as deep as they say it is, then a 10-14 pick might turn out to be the role player we need to play alongside Kobe and any free agents we sign this summer. Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers trade a potential top-10 pick to form a championship contender before Kobe’s contract runs out.
ICYMI: Pau Gasol had this to say about the rivalry with the Clippers.