It’s Rare, but the LA Lakers Have Been Mediocre Before

It’s unusual, but it happens: The Los Angeles Lakers are susceptible to mediocrity.

The league’s golden franchise has won five NBA titles since 2000 and has finished with a losing record just once during that same period.

Dating back to 1980, the Lakers have won 10 championships and have finished with a losing record just three times. That's 34 years with just three seasons under .500. Incredible.

But while it’s rare the Lakers have a losing season, it’s not so uncommon for Los Angeles to dwell in mediocrity during transitions from championship era to championship era.

Los Angeles has either not advanced to the playoffs or past the first round in four of its last nine seasons, coinciding with the departure of Shaquille O'Neal following the 2003-04 season.

Now, it appears the Lakers are headed back to average.

The team moves into a transition season following the departure of free agent Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, the likely amnesty of Metta World Peace—reported by Kevin Dong of the Orange County Register—and an aging roster with no salary flexibility.

Even the return of the Lakers’ all-time superstar Kobe Bryant from a torn Achilles tear won’t be enough to lift the Lakers above anything greater than a fringe playoff team.

Here’s the current Lakers salary situation, courtesy of Hoopsworld:

There’s always a chance injuries don’t strike against the Lakers with the same force as they did last season. However, the aging roster of the Lakers, coupled with the team’s desire to enter the 2014 offseason with only the salary of Steve Nash, makes this season an 82-game transitional period.

The biggest signal of a lost season comes via the reported eventual amnesty of World Peace, a move that will save the team roughly $30 million in luxury tax fees. It’s a mo...

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