The Lakers optimistically like to remind themselves that they are only 13 games out of first place in their division, but they are now 17 games behind the first place team in the western conference, currently the San Antonio Spurs with a record of 42-12.
On the other hand, the Lakers are also only 7 or 8 games out of last place.
With the Lakers $100 million dollar payroll and a lineup of Hall of Famers and perennial All-Stars, this season shouldn’t have gone this way.
But, with 20+ games left, these Lakers are staring down the prospect of putting together an enormous effort just to make it into the 8th spot in the west, only to be easily dispatched by either the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, or maybe even their hometown rival Los Angeles Clippers.
With an ailing team and little hope in sight, the Lakers should take a page out of Gregg Popovich’s playbook and sit their best players, until they are all healthy.
That is right, the Lakers should bench Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash for the rest of the season. Bryant is ailing. Howard is suffering from a torn right labrum, the same type of injury that knocked Jordan Hill out for the season. Pau Gasol is playing with torn plantar fascia. Although Nash isn’t currently injured, he could sit out like Tim Duncan did due to “old” age.
The Lakers should let their bodies heal for the remainder of the season. Playing and risking further injury to key players is a waste. The only value in playing this All-Star lineup this season is developing chemistry.
This Lakers team should have a better shot next year, healthy, than they ever will this year, injured. Although the Lakers health has not been there only problem this season, it has been one of their biggest.
A little tanking happens in sports. Last season the Charlotte Bobcats seemed to tank in order to land the number one draft pick, Anthony Davis, who ended up with the New Orleans Hornets.
Two seasons ago in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts tanked in the infamous “suck for luck” campaign that landed them star quarterback Andrew Luck.
Highlights of Colts tanking:
Even without trying to tank, the Lakers have played their way into a hole this season. And there does not seem to be an easy way out. Maybe the best thing to do if you are the Lakers is cut your losses, and start thinking about next season.