BY LAKERTOM FOR LAKERHOLICS.NET
Get ready for a second straight year rooting for the Lakers replacement players, guys who, for the most part, are just placeholders for the real Lakers players who have yet to be drafted, signed, or traded for, guys on 1-year deals looking to resurrect their NBA careers and win a chance to become real Lakers.
Barring an unexpected trade or sudden surprise signing, these are your 2014/15 Los Angles Lakers:
That the Lakers ended up kicking the can down the road and refocusing on 2015 and 2016 free agency shouldn’t have been a surprise since Mitch more or less conceded before summer it was likely to happen. What was disappointing to me was the Lakers decision not to pursue Lance Stephenson and Eric Bledsoe, two young stars who could very well develop into franchise or all-star players. Obviously, the Lakers made a conscious decision to wait and go after proven superstars rather than potential future superstars. The result of that decision will likely be a second straight year with the Lakers struggling in the bottom half of the brutal Western Conference and Lakers fans rooting for replacement players.
While the Lakers front office has been savaged by fans and media, including yours truly, for kicking the can down the road, I think Mitch and Jim have done an excellent job creating a more competitive roster for this year as well as acquiring the valuable trading chips in the form of players and picks that were sorely missed this summer as the Lakers were completely shut out of the sign-and-trade pursuit of Kevin Love. Next summer, the Lakers will have valuable young players like Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Ryan Kelly, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson and a 2015 first and second round picks in their back pocket. They will also have a roster that returns 8 players from the previous year that could make the playoffs.
I’m actually starting to get excited about this roster. Forgetting the injuries that decimated the Lakers last season, I actually think this year’s Lakers team is more talented than last year’s. We lost Gasol, Meeks, and Bazemore but also brought back Hill, Henry, and Johnson, added Randle and Clarkson via the draft, Lin via trade, and Boozer via amnesty. If you accept the reality that Hill and Davis are really the Lakers centers with an occasional appearance by Sacre when required by matchups or fouls, then the roster is well balanced at every position, with an improved starting lineup backed by an improved 8-player deep bench that should be top three in bench points scored and points differential. A bottom 4 playoff team.