Baby Lakers Showing the Franchise There’s More Than 1 Way to Build a Team

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers' recipe for rebuilding was never supposed to include lemons.

The lordly Lakers' plan was to draw majestic free-agent talent to work alongside (or replace) Kobe Bryant, ensuring the parade of dominant individual Lakers superstars would just march on with new coronations.

Instead, these new-look Lakers have been a sweet little lemonade stand with not-yet-global-but-neighborhood appeal, a place where any of the numerous fresh-faced kids can sell to you as opposed to just one magnetic, almighty Kobe.

There is no superstar here.

No one in the organization disputes that the Lakers backed into their current situation, which has been strangely refreshing.

The zippy passing after so much isolation. The breakneck manner in which young legs are eager to attack the basket. The never-say-die spirit the Lakers showed yet again in getting fans on their feet with late rallies Friday against the San Antonio Spurs and Sunday vs. the Chicago Bulls.

Those two teams offer L.A. some unique lessons in what went wrong and what lies ahead.

The Spurs are still contenders because, on draft day 2011, they traded for what turned out to be a superstar bridge in Kawhi Leonard, back when the Lakers were in the midst of a screw-the-draft era. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was concentrating on win-now moves at the time while deferring in the draft to his then-assistant, Ronnie Lester, who told people his 2011 second-round gems Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock would be better than Leonard.

The Bulls, on the other hand, are showing how difficult it is to trudge up the hard road of rebuilding, starting that way over the summer before quickly taking the exit ramp when Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo were willing to sign and keep the Bulls relevant.

Despite their fight, the Lakers lost to both teams over the weekend and might soon be facing ...

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