LA Lakers’ Role Players Must Carry This Team All Season Long

It's a new year and time to face reality: About the only thing the youthful roster of the Los Angeles Lakers will be shooting for between now and April are starting jobs and a guaranteed contract.

We can all forget any notion of a playoff berth and a run for a title in 2014. And we would all be best to put to rest any grand idea that Kobe Bryant will return at the All-Star break and finish the season on a 25-point-per-night scoring binge.

The Lakers of 2013-14 are really a band of mostly young, gypsy role players bent on impressing head coach Mike D'Antoni, general manager Mitch Kupchak and any other NBA team that may wish to sign them after the current season ends and they are free agents.

What we can count on from this core group are inspired performances of passion, speed, fearlessness and a not-so-subtle anxiety about their immediate future in the NBA.

As Bryant tries to rest from his latest setback, and Pau Gasol battles lingering injuries and an upper respiratory infection, the short-handed Lakers dole out opportunities to everyone but the team doctor. 

Patience wears thin when you're the coach of a team that not only lost Dwight Howard to free agency, Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles and Steve Nash to injuries and age, but has to convert forwards into point guards and then gets blown out on the road by Golden State and Phoenix.

D'Antoni had some choice words for Lakers Nation earlier in the week after a 27-point loss to the Suns.  As reported by Mark Bresnahan of the L.A. Times, D'Antoni said, "If they're discouraged, then find another team to root for.  We're not going to give up.  Are you kidding me?  Discouraged?  That's not even fair to these guys."

D'Antoni apologized the next day, but his true colors show that of a coach who has been dealt a shaky hand and is just hoping something good will come of it.

The tr...

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