What’s at Stake for LA Lakers in 2014 NBA Draft Lottery?

The NBA Draft lottery could very well determine where the Los Angeles Lakers are headed for the next two seasons.

General manager Mitch Kupchak has already stated that the plan is to rebuild for a year or two, and then acquire talent to potentially contend for a title. Accepting short-term mediocrity comes with a price, though: Kobe Bryant could become close to irrelevant on a bad Lakers team.

The two-year, $48.5 million extension that Bryant signed early in the season will keep him with the franchise until the conclusion of the 2015-16 campaign. Presumably, he will retire then and clear L.A.’s cap sheet.

Bryant missed 76 games because of a torn Achilles and fractured knee, while Steve Nash dealt with ongoing back and nerve injuries that kept him sidelined for 67 games. By the time training camp opens, Bryant will be 36 years old, and Nash will be 40.

That’s Los Angeles’ projected starting backcourt.

Free-agent Pau Gasol will turn 34 years old before next season. He has already hinted he might leave the team but has also publicly been a great endorser of all things Lakers, which means he might stay another two years or so.

The Lakers as presently constructed are heavy on mileage and light on athleticism. What’s more, the injuries of Bryant and Nash this year are enough to have you wonder whether their bodies have suffered irreparable damage.

It gets worse.

L.A. has yet to replace head coach Mike D’Antoni, who resigned in late April . Hence, fielding a competitive team with these parts could prove quite challenging.

Enter the draft lottery.

Its results will have an impact on a multitude of levels that will help shape the direction of the franchise over the next few years.


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