Without Dwight Howard, Should the Los Angeles Lakers Tank?

Dwight Howard was not impressed by the Los Angeles Lakers’ billboards, apparently. He’s gone, leaving for the Houston Rockets, as reported on July 5 by Sam Amick of USA Today.

The Lakers had pinned pretty much all their hopes of remaining relevant on Howard’s return. With him gone, it may be time for them to blow it up and rebuild. They’ll have to dump big contracts and acquire young talent, probably through the draft—which, for now, means they’ll have to lose.

A lot of games.

What? The Los Angeles Lakers tank? Never! The Lakers are one of the NBA’s marquee franchises. They would never do something as pathetic as intentionally gutting the roster for draft picks.

That’s what I would expect most of you, especially Laker fans, to say right now.

But the Lakers are one of the cornerstone franchises of the NBA, and the NBA needs them to do well, right? The Lakers can’t tank, can they?

Let’s take a look at that objection. Realistically, there are only three franchises that could be called “marquee franchises” in the NBA: the Lakers, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics. Throughout NBA history, these three teams have gotten the most media attention and attracted the biggest TV audiences.

Well, the Knicks have had long stretches of mediocrity in their history, and they’ve only won two titles—and zero in the last 40 years. The Celtics were terrible in the 1990s, when ratings and mainstream interest in the NBA were at their peak, and shamelessly tanked in 1996-97 and 2006-07. So who says the Lakers can’t tank?

Compared to even these franchises, the Lakers have been incredibly good—or incredibly lucky—for a very long time.

The Lakers have had an unprecedented run of relevance spanning seven decades. They’ve made the playoffs in 60 out of their 65 years in the N...

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