After losing 10 of their last 11 games, the immediate future for the Los Angeles Lakers looks bleak to say the least. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar are all still on the shelf with injuries while the team seems to get progressively worse.
With the latest dry spell for the Lakers, the talk of the storied franchise tanking from here on out has become a popular topic of discussion. Although the Lakers aren’t a team known to use the tactic, it seems as though there’s no choice in the matter with the team simply unable to turn things around with Bryant still on the mend.
GM Mitch Kupchak addressed the tanking and the Lakers having no interest in doing so via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
There is no way to believe that a team would, on purpose, do a terrible job in the summer and a terrible job in the draft because they want to lose games the next season. Now, I’m sure once the season begins and things go or don’t go your way, the speculation as to what may happen if things continue may arise. We’ve been through years like that, and there’s never been a discussion in midseason in this building where ownership would say, “It’s best to lose.” That’s never taken place. Now, I don’t even know how you convey that message to the coach if it were the goal. Coaches are defined by their record; it’s intuitive that they do not want to lose. It’s inconceivable to me that a general manager would try to convey that message to anybody. So it’s never happened here and it never will. It’s the worst message you can ever give to anybody.
Currently, the Lakers are in 13th place in the Western Conference with a 14-23 record. Even if Bryant and Nash return to form once back on the floor in the coming weeks, the Lakers will have an enormous hole to dig out of. There’s no question the two superstars improve this team’s chances of turning it around, but it may be too late to salvage this season.
Tanking may not be the intention of Kupchak and company moving forward, but it may appear that way with the team simply unable to get back on track. The team’s attention may quickly turn to the 2014 NBA Draft and free agency this summer if the struggles continue.
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