Los Angeles Lakers Have Every Incentive to Turn Youth Loose

Midway through a season rife with frustration and cold, hard truths, the Los Angeles Lakers have every incentive to turn their youth loose.

This was always going to be a transition year for the storied Lakers. Free-agent strikeouts and Kobe Bryant's post-prime backslide loomed large entering 2014-15. Reality began setting in long before the season's opening tip: The Lakers weren't even close to a playoff team.

Still, a sense of mystery existed. No one quite knew where the Lakers would actually fall or how successful Bryant's march against time would actually be. Curiosity, coupled with the potential for surprise showings, kept full-on make-this-all-about-the-future talk at bay.

That mystery has since been solved, and now the Lakers are what they are: a team that finally needs to exploit its sorry state by making this season about the next one.

Part of that process is already underway and has been for a while. Rather than dole out pricey pacts to impact players over the summer, the Lakers took their shot, focusing on only the biggest names, standing mostly pat upon coming up empty.

Preserving that cap space was a way of prioritizing the future over the present. The Lakers will enter 2015 free agency flush with flexibility, ready to welcome the next superstar or two.

Byron Scott has been coaching this team as if it has actual expectations in the meantime. He's made some developmental-driven decisions—benching Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, starting Ronnie Price and Ed Davis—but until recently, the Lakers were a Bryant-dependent squad playing experience over potential.

Subtle changes to the rotation haven't done anything to thaw Scott's heated approach either. He still expects his 11-win team to play better than an 11-win team.

"We were soft," Scott said following the Lakers' 114-89 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, per ESPN Lo...

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