Los Angeles Lakers Strategy in 2014 Must Be One Borne out of Courage, Not Fear

There are no certainties here.

Kobe Bryant doesn’t know when he’ll play—or how he’ll play when once he’s out of that Achilles bracelet and off house arrest. Steve Nash has even less idea than Bryant if he’s still great, good or now grandfatherly. Not a single player on the team has secure contract status for next season when you consider Robert Sacre and Elias Harris’ partial guarantees, Nick Young’s player option and Nash’s eligibility to be cut and have his salary stretched out over future years.

As a result, a subset of Lakerland is reaching for what it perceives to be a sure thing: tanking the season that begins Tuesday night for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft headlined by Andrew Wiggins.

It’s an understandable sentiment, albeit a totally naïve one.

The best place to start when explaining this is a roundabout one: What many fail to understand is just how far ahead of the Lakers so many teams are with regard to being terrible this season. Championship favorites this time last year, the Lakers carried over a big payroll with big-time players on it. Their “competition” to be bad includes teams such as Philadelphia and Phoenix that flat-out have no recourse but to build traditionally through the draft and thus have next to no one on the team.

So even if this draft has eight future stars in it, that hardly means the Lakers will get one of them when you consider how many teams are already committed to being awful.

And lest we forget, at least one Laker—when he springs himself from his current imprisonment—is not exactly going to be on board with a commitment to awfulness.

For the Lakers to go against the Bryant competitive fire that has served them so well over so many years—and was the one thing over which Bryant so connected with Jerry Buss—would be like selling...

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