Do the LA Lakers Have a Rebuild Plan?

Deep into a horrific season, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a singular rebuild plan in mind, but instead, are juggling several.

This isn’t unexpected—the vagaries of time, injury and chance cause most teams around the NBA to continually adjust expectations as well as solutions.

It’s part of an organization’s natural evolution—players have finite shelf lives, after all, and a team is the sum of many parts. This particular season, however, has thrown more than a few extra curves into the mix.

The most basic plan for the Lakers began with the premise that Kobe Bryant was on the mend from Achilles surgery and looking good for a return to action.

Given that other key players such as Pau Gasol and Steve Blake were in the final years or their contracts, management made the decision to fill the roster with an unusually large number of one-year deals—keying especially on undervalued younger players who had not lived up to prior expectations.

These prospects would be auditioning for the future, and would also be complementary to proven, veteran players—not only Bryant, but other future Hall of Famers, like Gasol and Steve Nash.

Of course, everyone knew the challenges faced by Nash who, like Bryant, was attempting to come back from injury. But, the presence of Blake along with the signing of Jordan Farmar, who won a couple rings with the Lakers early in his career, seemed to offer some stability at the point guard position.

On November 25, the Lakers took the next step, going all in on Bryant by signing him to a $48.5 million contract extension for what would presumably be his final two seasons. The superstar would become that rarest of commodities in the NBA—beginning and ending a 20-year career in the same uniform.

It wasn’t a bad plan. Bryant, the face of the franchise for so many years, would continue to...

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