Lakers Thinking Bigger Picture With Off-Season Approach Reviewed by Momizat on . PAGES: 1 | 2 As currently constructed, the only contracts that are guaranteed to count against the Lakers' salary in the 2015-2016 season belong to Bryant ($25 PAGES: 1 | 2 As currently constructed, the only contracts that are guaranteed to count against the Lakers' salary in the 2015-2016 season belong to Bryant ($25 Rating: 0
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Lakers Thinking Bigger Picture With Off-Season Approach

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As currently constructed, the only contracts that are guaranteed to count against the Lakers’ salary in the 2015-2016 season belong to Bryant ($25 million), Young ($5.1 million) and Julius Randle ($3.1 million). This gives them the financial flexibility to spend in a free agent market next summer that could include unrestricted free agents like Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic and DeAndre Jordan. LaMarcus Aldridge has stated that he wants to re-sign with the Portland Trail Blazers next summer, although you never know what can happen in the span of a year. Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and Nikola Vucevic could be among the restricted free agents next July.

The 2016 free agent class could possibly include unrestricted options such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah, among others. An important thing to note: the effects of Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract extension would no longer be felt, as it would be off the team’s payroll, potentially giving the Lakers an immense amount of flexibility in July of 2016.

Laker fans may be disappointed with the result of the team’s free agency plan, but Kupchak and company are taking the best course of action.

Outside of James and Anthony, the 2014 free agent class lacked star power. The Lakers live by a principle: get the star players first, then build the supporting cast around them — not vice versa. It’s a formula that has made them the most storied franchise in NBA history, so it’s hard to imagine them abandoning the strategy anytime soon.

The worst possible scenario in the NBA is to be a middle-of-the-pack team that is financially handcuffed by multiyear contracts. In such a case, being a fringe playoff team would mean you don’t have a realistic chance at winning a championship while not getting a great draft pick in the process, thus limiting your opportunities to add quality talent to the roster. If the Lakers managed to sign both Stephenson and Thomas in free agency for example, it would have devoured most of the team’s salary cap space (roughly $22 million) while still needing to fill out half of the roster.

Does a projected starting five of Thomas, Stephenson, Bryant, Randle and a center signed for cheap plus a potential absence of any depth whatsoever compete for a championship? In a Western Conference that is loaded with supremely talented teams, odds are the team would be a second round playoff exit at best, and that’s being generous enough to count on major contributions from the rookie Randle while assuming all the pieces are cohesive and Bryant is back to the level he performed at in the 2012-2013 season.

Simply put, the Lakers elected to save their money for deeper and more talented free agent classes in 2015 and 2016, while gaining a few assets in the process. This also gives them an added option in terms of the trade element. Los Angeles has a long history of acquiring superstars through trades. In order to land quality talent in a trade, you need assets and expiring contracts, although I personally consider them to be one in the same. The Lakers now have some at their disposal.

Let’s revisit the 2008 trade that brought Gasol to Los Angeles. The Lakers gave up an expiring contract in Kwame Brown and Aaron McKie’s minimum throw-in salary, a young and promising prospect at the time in Javaris Crittenton along with then-overweight and young Marc Gasol as well as first round picks in 2008 and 2010. To sum it all up, they gave the Memphis Grizzlies expiring contracts, two prospects and draft picks.

Those are the things that the Lakers have collected this offseason so far. Lin and Hill both have movable contracts that can come off the books after this season. Randle and second round pick Jordan Clarkson, who was extremely impressive in Summer League play, are two promising and intriguing prospects. Also, with the Rockets losing Lin, Parsons and Omer Asik in a cost cutting trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, they lose three key players from their roster and only filled the void with Ariza. This means that it certainly isn’t out of the question to expect Houston to drop a couple spots this season, perhaps even to a 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs. For each spot the Rockets may drop in playoff seeding (assuming they still get into the postseason), their 2015 draft pick becomes more valuable to the Lakers.

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Teams that are looking to trade disgruntled superstars, like the Minnesota Timberwolves for example, generally want expiring contracts so that they can have financial flexibility to help rebuild the roster, along with draft picks or promising prospects who are naturally salary-cap friendly. Now, I’m not saying the Lakers will look to trade for Kevin Love by any means, but they do have some trade chips available to them now to explore some avenues.

Then again, they could hold onto those expiring contracts for this season and just make another run at free agency like I mentioned previously.

Barring any major transactions between now and the trade deadline, expectations for the 2014-2015 Lakers should not be very high. On the bright side, if the Lakers have a second consecutive tumultuous year, they would have a chance to keep their own top-five protected pick in the 2015 draft. If the pick falls anywhere lower than fifth, it goes over to the Phoenix Suns as part of the 2012 trade that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles. So if all goes well for L.A., or terrible depending on how you look at it, they could end up with two picks in the first round of next year’s draft along with enough spending money to pursue a bevy of talented free agents.

It may not be the most appealing option to a fan base that expects results right away due to prior history, but it is considerably better than overpaying free agents in this class that would severely hinder the team’s ability to bolster the roster in the coming years while not having enough talent to compete for championships.

The key for Laker fans is to be patient with this process. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, rebuilding takes a little more precision and can be more time consuming. It took the Lakers three years to rebuild once they traded away O’Neal in 2004. They did so by gathering expiring contracts and then waiting for the right opportunity to make a move. That’s exactly what they are doing now.

The next step in the journey will be to hire a head coach in the upcoming weeks.

It’s important to remember that there is a reason why Kupchak recently received another contract extension as general manager of the organization. He has an outstanding track record and the Buss family has faith in him to figure things out. It’s time the fan base does the same and gives him a realistic time frame to work with.

The team has endured through one bad season and it may take at least one more. Even if that proves to be true, Los Angeles will have opportunities to right the ship in the next one to two years. The results may not come right away, but not far down the road awaits options that could pay far greater dividends than purging in this year’s free agency.
Lakers Waive Kendall Marshall, Sign Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson

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About The Author

Gary Kester is a writer for Lakers Nation and standingosports.com. He was born and raised in Idaho and currently lives in Boise. Follow Gary on twitter: @garykester

Number of Entries : 9
  • atakan

    hill and a pick for bledose or randle and a pick for bledsoe or anything else.then make another package for love new big3.kobe,bledsoe,love.nexy years add klay thompson,paul george when kobe retires. line up for nex years

    • vdogg

      you’re a moron. bledsoe has knee issues and is not even one of the top six PGs in the NBA. paul george just signed an extension.. what the hell are you talking about? go back to bed.

      • Pao Pao Lim

        dream on atakan hehe

        • wendymwenzel

          my buddy’s sister makes $87 every hour on the internet
          . She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her payment was $19402
          just working on the internet for a few hours. go right here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

          • McDonaldPretzel

            she’s a liar!

      • caner

        shut the f##k up!!! u can’t konw what’s gonna happen.lakers biggest franchise in the history of basketball.when we got howard magic only got shit players like vucevic,harrington,afollo in return they all worthless player.lakers can do the same thing to get love.we can cheat them in 3 team trades.and it would be great if we get bledsoe coz he is proven randle not.we can’t bulid a team through draft.and don’t think we gonna tank again.we are the franchise challenge for title EVERY season.

        • LakeShooo

          Except last season right? lol

          • caner

            we could have made 3 peat but everyone knows that cp3 trade collapsed us.if it happened we would have cp3,howard,kobe and pau gasol and maybe way better than this roster.

          • Kale Pinder

            Pau was involved in the trade to get Paul. You know this right?

          • caner

            yeah but i am giving some examples.i mean howard could leave us but.we could send him in 3 team trades orl else.atleast we colud get solid vets but nothing happened we lost everhing both pau and howard….

        • vdogg

          why would we draft randle if we didn’t want a rookie? we would have just traded the pick. man i am so glad that morons like yourself are not running the team. SO GLAD!

      • atakan

        paul geroge,klay thompson,kevin love are from california!!!and russell westbrook also.when kobe leaves us everhing is possible why? BECAUSE kobe prevents other superstar.we would get melo if we didn’t have kobe.

        • vdogg

          can you REALLY be this dumb? melo went for the money, plain and simple. learn something about the NBA.

          THEN post.

          • joshhh

            wow he also went cuz he believes in phil he even said it instead of leaving to player with kobe,lebron,rose ect…I respect players who stick to 1 team and try and build around him that’s the proper like kobe laker forlife melo knick for life what pussy

          • LakersOverEverything

            Vdogg, don’t feed the trolls, man. It makes them linger around

          • atakan

            u can’t know what’s happening behind the scenes.i do know what’s going on in nba.nbs is rigged since it’s existence.lakers had a chance to make a historical team with howard kobe and cp3 and king james could come.BUT nba didn’t allow it.they knew lakers would get titles for years and alllll rating in nba would go down.yeah i am just dreaming about who would come to la.but those names already wanna play for la.but once again nba won’t allow that teaming up.

          • Erica

            This would have defeated the purpose of competition…in order to be the best you must beat the best…not join forces and shit on the smaller players…

          • courtney harris

            i would have to agree, melo really wanted the money. he took 5 million less (-1 million per year). i believe in phil, but melo doesnt really want to win like he say he does. i could almost say the same thing about kobe, but really kobe has taken a stand on it, and others have followed.

            lebron – max
            melo- max
            bosh- max
            kyrie – max
            paul george- max

            guys believe they should be paid, and its up to management to figure out the rest.

          • atakan

            u can’t know what’s happening behind the scenes.i do know what’s going on in nba.nbs is rigged since it’s existence.lakers had a chance to make a historical team with howard kobe and cp3 and king james could come.BUT nba didn’t allow it.they knew lakers would get titles for years and alllll rating in nba would go down.yeah i am just dreaming about who would come to la.but those names already wanna play for la.but once again nba won’t allow that teaming up…..

        • joshhh

          lakers desperately need a starting sf . out of these 3 good players which one should the lakers get . MARION,AMINU,AND MWP for me it’s between mwp and marion because there starters there tough minded they both good perimeter defenders I give marion a slight edge cuz he’s a better rebounder or I could give mwp the edge cuz he’s better shooter idk but I know lakers have to get one of them or were in trouble

          • Chrmngblly

            We have plenty of guys that can play the 3. We even felt so flush we let Bazemore go. Kobe and Young can both play the 3 just fine. Maybe Kelly and Randle, too. Bring Meta back as an assistant coach—not a player—sheesh! Sweep the cobwebs out of the belfry, Marge.

          • Lamar Miles

            They are = THEY’RE.

        • Kale Pinder

          One of the reasons Melo was acually seriously considering LA was Kobe. Know facts b4 you talk plzzz, im tired of fans talking when they have no idea what there talking about

      • 16 of em

        Thanks..he needed that

    • Marcus Franco

      Hill and a pick for bledsoe lol no way this gonna happen. We don’t have enough assets for Love and if by a chance we get Bledsoe we’ll have to give Randle which in my opinion is an absurd.

      • Ray-Marcus

        Agreed. The FO did the best they could do. They brought in a lot of talented “chip on your shoulder” players who have not reached their potential for whatever reason…but did not over commit so we can target the big guys next summer. Any of Lin, Boozer, Hill or even Henry can break out and then we could then have a good season depending on Kobe

    • TTKIN

      This episode of Trade Machine has been brought to you by NBA 2K15.

      • okaaay

        Sadly, this is true. NBA2k15 has brought out the armchair GM in many.

    • rival

      the only realistic option might be klay next year

    • okaaay

      There are so many things wrong with this logic that I don’t know where to begin.

      • joshhh


    • James Mashore

      this is not nba 2k

    • They call me Pringles

      Lakers won’t be able to afford all those big salaries. CBA won’t be in their favor.


    I had no idea our pick next yr is top-5 protected.
    I don’t give a fuck about enduring losing right now. Get that pick in the top 5!
    A top-5 pick, with Randle, with cap space?? I’d be patient and be happy as shit while I do it haha.

    • Guest

      Doesn’t matter what the lakers do. We need the rockets to make the playoffs to get those picks we got from them

      • courtney harris

        its going to be tough. they lost parsons, asik, and lin. i dont know who they got in return other than ariza – so we’ll see. hopefully howard develops some foot work.

        • vdogg

          i hope howard sucks balls.

  • Daniel

    that is what is all about. You can do much with the cap, now, you can not build a championship overnight anymore, we need to be patient, things are going to get better.

    • Chrmngblly

      Cleveland did it overnight…

      • Ray-Marcus

        Miami’s big three did too and even Boston before that

        • Chrmngblly


  • Andy L

    Finally an interesting article to give us hotheads some perspective. I tip my hat.

    • Chrmngblly

      You meant Potheads, right?

      • Andy L

        Go back to your crackpipe sonny. Nothimg interesting to see here.

        • Chrmngblly

          True. Not much. Except these fools are conflating our next year’s pick with the one we got from the Rockets. OUR pick went to Phoenix and is top5 protected. We are unlikely to play that bad. The one we got from Houston is probably protected, too, but they are unlikely to play that bad, also. So we will get a late first round pick, most likely.

          What is so hot about this article , daddy?

          • Andy L

            What I was trying to show appreciation for was a break from the constant regurgitation of non-news that goes on at this place. At least someone gives an interesting perspective even though there is some confusion with those picks.

          • Chrmngblly

            OK. I am in despair over the LACK of any evidence for any “big picture”—other than just not spending money they don’t have anyway. I am not outraged by this article; I am just not so thrilled as you seem to be. Enjoy to your heart’s content. :-)

  • TimDerr

    please do NOT trade Randle for Bledsoe, he isn’t worth it. Randle has too much potential and we aren’t going to be that great anyways. Lin will be good enough to get the job done but we dont have any very effective big men so we need Randle to develop in to a beast down there

    • joshhh

      I know it will hurt but I really lik Bledsoe he can be our pg of the lakers future
      when kobe retires he could be the man to take his spot this guy is something special if u don’t believe me go look at hiss highlights I know everyone would be mad if they did this but like in 2 years from now everyone would be like ya im so happy we got Bledsoe and pg postion won’t be aproblem anymore when’s the last TIME the lakers had elite pg MAGIC THATS HOW LONG AGO

      • vdogg

        you idiot, bledsoe has had two surgeries on the same knee. he is not reliable and not a top 5 NBA PG. stop posting this BS. randle is going to be a nightmare match-up for any PF in the NBA.

        • joshhh

          you’ll see when they play against him whoever he’s worth and you’ll say wow we should of got him actually you’ll see when the lakers play against any elite pg which is lik every team has there just gonna blow by lin and Clarkson and nash and were ggonna destroyed I keep telling people that the nba now is not like it use to be before it was throw it down low and let the big man do it was the post up era now it’s the pick and roll era. now and days u must and must have a franchise pg or elite pg to compete if u don’t ur going no where

          • vdogg

            so you can predict the future now? LOL. be gone.

          • okaaay

            I can see why you like Bledsoe but he has yet to prove he can play for 82 games. Given the amount of injuries that the Lakers sustained last season, carrying a healthy squad for the rest of the season is a huge issue. With Nash’s salary set to come off of the books after next season, it’s not necessary to give up on a 19 year old talent like Randle for a broken Bledsoe.

          • joshhh

            I know but even Stephen a smith from espn first take agrees with me that they should do whatever possible to get him and Stephen a smith knows what’s he’s talking about

          • Chrmngblly

            We could have kept Bazemore except Mitch tried to get too slick.

  • TimDerr

    I also think we need to start looking into a franchise center for the future. Kobe is gone in a yr or 2 and sadly I dont think we will be a powerhouse again before that but the Lakers seem to usually find a way. It just can’t be done every year. 95% of the time we are a good team and as fans I think most of us are satisfied and understand we can’t be great 100% of the time. I’m worried about the future. If Kobe wasn’t there our team would be pretty bad I think. I hope they are planning ahead.

  • wangkon936

    Interesting. We are over the cap:

    - Kobe Bryant- $23.5M
    - Steve Nash- $9.7M
    - Jordan Hill- $9.0M
    - Jeremy Lin- $8.7M
    - Nick Young- $5.4M
    - Carlos Boozer- $3.2M
    - Julius Randle- $2.9M
    - Ryan Kelly- $1.1M
    - Xavier Henry- $1.1M
    - Wesley Johnson- $1.1M
    - Ed Davis- $1.0M
    - Jordan Clarkson- $510k

    Total: $68.2M
    Cap: $63.2M
    Space: -$4.9M

    • Peter Griffin

      Technically no, Young, Hill, Johnson and Henry were resigned using Bird rights so they are able to resign them and go over the cap. 80 Million is when you start to pay luxury tax. They still have a 2.5 mil exception to use if needed.

      • wangkon936

        Bird right FAs don’t count towards cap limits in terms of signing them, but do decrease our cap size when we wanna sign someone new.

        That’s why even though they had Bird rights, they were still signed for the lowest possible contract size and shortest possible amount of time. We wanna be competitive for the 2015 FA market.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dion-Richardson/1201967847 Dion Richardson

    We’ve got a solid team. Don’t sleep! With the Mamba at the helm, anything can happen!!!

    • wangkon936

      Maybe Mamba version 2012. Not sure about Mamba 2014 version.

    • joshhh

      lakers desperately need a starting sf . out of these 3 good players which one should the lakers get . MARION,AMINU,AND MWP for me it’s between mwp and marion because there starters there tough minded they both good perimeter defenders I give marion a slight edge cuz he’s a better rebounder or I could give mwp the edge cuz he’s better shooter idk but I know lakers have to get one of them or were in trouble

      • wangkon936

        SF by committee this year: Johnson, Henry, Young and at times even Kobe.

        • joshhh

          Johnson henry and young r not caliber starters there made to come off the bench and they don’t possess perimeter defense I think we must get marion we have to get him to at least comepete for a payoff spot

          • vdogg

            johnson is a very good defender, actually. henry is decent. young is poor, though.

          • joshhh

            u people believe in these pointless guys that no one knows in the league who Johnson is when he was wit the wolves no one talked about him he was scrub and he still is what no all off a sudden now that he’s with the lakers he’s gonna redeem himself for the lakers future come on now

      • Chrmngblly


        • joshhh

          stfu u don’t know anything about bball

          • Chrmngblly

            Right. MWP is over as a player and he was done when we amnestied him. I love the guy, just not as a player. Once we get a head coach, I would consider bringing Meta back as an assistant.

            We have enough washed-up, retread players.

            So shutup….:-)

  • meep

    Lakers should be fine long shot to win a title but they be better then last year for sure. Only move I question is resigning Wes

    • Hafamoll .

      and letting go kent bazemore

      • Chrmngblly

        Bazemore has to be the stupidest thing I have seen Mitch do, ever.

  • meep

    So people want the lakers to hurt the front court depth just to get a PG who talented but could be the next Eric Gordon talented but can’t stay healthy

  • 3339

    Lakers were an absolute mess last season with a clueless coach. no big time free agent wanted to join that.
    now we managed to acquire some solid players and good rookies to go along with Kobe. The roster combined with a better coach (Byron Scott or whoever else they’re thinking) will restore a better environment that star players will want to join in on.

    • Hafamoll .

      i agree

  • courtney harris

    thank you laker nation writers for the hard work of keeping us update to with the stuff that’s being going on. everyone has been so down lately, but this article has something in it that’s been missing.. A REALITY CHECK.

    Gary you hit the nail on the head.
    1] the lakers strategy of star first then build around has been very successful. im glad to see the mitch and company have not abandoned THAT of all things.

    2] gary you also pointed out that IF we would have went backwards from norm and signed upper 2nd tier free agents, we would have been very much like denver in the sense that we would have been good enough to make the playoffs with really no one to carry us past a deep western conference.
    3] you also pointed out that we would have no depth! as we can see from this past championship series, depth (and team basketball) is everything!

    overall great write up.

    • Chrmngblly

      Ass Kisser!

      • courtney harris


  • courtney harris

    after reading of these comments im truly shocked at how disrespectful you guys are towards the 2nd greatest player of all time. kobe has bleed (literally) for this team. i know if this site is filled with a bunch of 2000′s babies who only knows lebron, but the disrespect is real. i can understand the anger toward kobes contract, but its a 50/50 thing with that. i also understand this is a day and time of “what have you done for me lately”, but im glad his contract blocked a potential kobe,melo, lebron team up. how horrible would the nba be if they teamed up together, and had every decent player under them playing for 5 million just to win a ring? maybe kobe doesnt deserve to be the highest paid player, but did bosh deserve his contract? i have a better question, if your boss came to you with a raise that was so great that it eliminate a job opportunity for someone,, would you really turn it down?

    • Josh102

      Well said there’s a lot of fake laker fans in this site or kobe haters anyone who’s boss offers them a raise will take who wouldn’t

      • courtney harris

        i don’t knock anybodies opinion, but its easy for an everyday joe to tell a millionaire to take a paycut just as easy as would be for a homeless person to tell one of us we dont need to make 100k a year to be happy.

        • josh101

          Homeless hasn’t done much for compensation as someone who has done so much for there job deserve a raise compensation bonus what ever u want to call it but he’s proven his good work homeless is homeless because he hasn’t tried

          • courtney harris

            i could counter but i dont think what i said was well stated.

    • Ray-Marcus

      Smart post….agree 100%

  • Ken Cheng

    The thing about Kobe’s contract is way overblown, because not one free agent has turned down the Lakers *specifically* because the Lakers couldn’t afford to pay him. It’s been a nonissue, really.

    • R U Serious

      Have to disagree, while it may be true that no free agent has turned the lakers down because they couldn’t afford him, it is because they couldn’t afford to add other necessary players to make the lakers a championship contender. Kobe and only one other top tier free agent can’t win a championship, but because Laker management offered that ridiculous contract to Kobe why would he turn it down. Management should have come to Kobe with three different proposal,
      1 Kobe gets 24 mil per year no chance for a ring in the next two years but puts butts in the seats at Staples.
      2. Kobe takes 15 mil team is able to add one top tier and two second tier and contend for championship in year two
      3. Kobe takes 10 mil team can offer max deals to two tier one free agents
      and contend right away.

      I have no idea if they did or did not do this but if they did not blame falls on management, if they did then it is obvious that Kobe is about the money and not the rings.

  • atakan

    fuck u nba.nba is totally rigged

    • courtney harris

      i dont wish bad things on people but i dont include david stern in my nightly prayers. im also ready for roger gooddell to go play in traffic.

  • Truth B Told

    Bledsoe is over rated…..I would not give up all those pieces for an unproven player…..what has he proven?…..The Suns are looking for some Suckers….They already got over on the Lakers with D’Atoni and Nash.

  • ADox

    Finally some positive news!

  • Ryan LeBraun

    Can someone clarify this statement made in the article? Did Gary, the author, just say that the Lakers could possibly keep and/or use their 2015 1st Round Pick, should the pick fall between 1-5?: “On the bright side, if the Lakers have a second consecutive tumultuous
    year, they would have a chance to keep their own top-five protected pick
    in the 2015 draft. If the pick falls anywhere lower than fifth, it goes
    over to the Phoenix Suns as part of the 2012 trade that brought Steve
    Nash to Los Angeles. So if all goes well for L.A., or terrible depending
    on how you look at it, they could end up with two picks in the first
    round of next year’s draft…”

  • Kb24

    DURANT IDOLIZES KOBE AND DIRK, HE THINKS KOBE IS THE 2nd MJ23…if he will leve okc, his options are LAL,DAL(play with dirk who is his favorite player with kobe),WAS(coach),DAL(team up with SOFTen and Coward)

  • http://ringchamp.com Ring Champ

    The Lakers will be better then people think this year with cap space to make a move in 2015 or 2016. Were set up to win a a couple of years and thats all anyone can ask from the FO. Their doing a fine job.

  • Richad

    Kobe approves the Lakers approach this season. Out of all of the scenarios they picked the safest and most likely best one. It gives them the financial ability/options to go after the top players in the 2015 and 16 market. First they chose to make the play for the top two, Lebron and Carmelo to go with Kobe. Those moves would have laid a solid foundation for an immediate future Lakers NBA dynasty. We just have to trust that ownership and management have, or will put their heads together to again make game changing decisions as they have in past history, that will again results in Laker championship teams in the not too distant future.

  • Fourwinds

    The Lakers will still suck this season (and probably the next) and I am good with that, but I will always be a Lakers fan. I am confident that after this or the following season is over, the Lakers will find a way to regaining that elite status.

    Just develop the young players we have (Randle, Clarkson, Kelly) and see who should stay after this season. Go after 1 or 2 1st tier star FAs on 2015/2016 and we will be on our way to the top again!

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