How Missing Playoffs Would Impact L.A. Lakers’ Future with Dwight Howard and Co.

The Los Angeles Lakers are still on the cusp of that final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is a long way from where they were pegged at the beginning of the season.

A missed playoff spot would have strange implications.

Obviously, it's too early to count them out. After all, they have won seven of their last nine games and an impressive four of six on their current, injury-riddled road trip.

The only problem is that the Lakers have lost Pau Gasol for an extended period of time, they have a hobbled Dwight Howard, and if their game against the Boston Celtics is any implication, deeper teams are going to give them a rough time down the stretch.

Challenges lie ahead, but they're slowly working their way over each day-to-day difficulty, even if those difficulties have been major for the past month.

Los Angeles is a paltry game-and-a-half behind ninth place and a surprisingly meager three-and-a-half games behind the final playoff spot.

Looking at the Lakers, they are not the team they have been over the past decade. There's way too much uncertainty.

As a result, it seems like a situation where standing pat isn't an option, especially if they do end up missing the playoffs. 

To Panic, or not to Panic?

Obviously, the Lakers missing the playoffs is a huge deal. They've missed the postseason a grand total of six times in the existence of the franchise. So when they do miss the playoffs, people tend to get perturbed.

What's undeniably strange, however, is that the Lakers legitimately had a "rebuilding" offseason after they last missed the playoffs. After the 2005 season, they opted not to panic, held onto their draft picks, let Kobe Bryant throw a hissy fit through the media and were better off for it in the long run.

They drafted Andrew Bynum that summer and allowed the rest to take care of itself. The only real shakeup w...

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