The Los Angeles Lakers have nowhere to go but up. Or so it seems.
Spiraling toward another record-busting season of losses, the 19-52 Lakers face tough decisions at almost every level of the organization, though primarily on the court.
In obvious rebuilding mode, the Lakers are taking a hard look at which players they’ll keep when the season ends in a couple of weeks. There are talented pieces on this team who, with the addition of several top-level free agents and draft picks, stand ready to elevate L.A. back to respectability.
The Lakers could have as many as four picks, two in each round, with the remote possibility of getting the No. 1 pick in the lottery. Most likely they will pick in the fourth or fifth position.
Who should the Lakers draft: the best player available or the one who fits a need?
With 11 games left, the coaching staff is evaluating everyone on the roster. Veterans, like Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, are being rested more so as to give such players as Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Clarkson the opportunity to develop.
Competing supplanted winning as the team’s mantra long ago. Though it was exciting to see Clarkson lead the Lakers to an overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, the victory did absolutely nothing to enhance the team’s critical draft position.
Questions also surround the Lakers front office. Just who among the triumvirate of Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss and Jeannie Buss is running the team, and what is their game plan to fix it?
A panel of ESPN Insiders this week ranked the Lakers front office 28th out of 30, a drop of 12 spots from a year ago. Those same pundits also ranked Kupchak 26th among the league’s 30 general managers.
That’s not a ringing endorsement.
And, last but not least, just how will Kobe Bryant fit back into a club that clearly needs a major infusion of youth, speed and athleticism to set it back on the right path? And what will be his legacy?
There are lots of questions and few clear-cut answers.
Ivan Rodriguez Pee Wee Reese Ron Santo Gary Carter Manny Ramirez Craig Biggio Rafael Palmeiro Willie McCovey Kenny Lofton Tim Raines Ozzie Smith Ernie Banks Frank Baker Roberto Alomar Al Simmons Gary Sheffield Mark McGwire Reggie Smith Jackie Robinson Goose Goslin Joe Jackson Joe Cronin Scott Rolen Ryne Sandberg Dwight Evans Yogi Berra Jake Beckley Graig Nettles Harmon Killebrew Dick Allen Keith Hernandez Willie Keeler Buddy Bell Sal Bando Willie Randolph Bobby Wallace Jimmy Wynn Dave Winfield Sammy Sosa Jeff Kent Mike Piazza Sherry Magee Jack Glasscock Andruw Jones Ken Boyer Richie Ashburn Bid McPhee Zack Wheat Willie Stargell Will Clark Todd Helton Billy Williams Willie Davis Vladimir Guerrero Bobby Abreu Darrell Evans Bobby Bonds Hank Greenberg Andre Dawson John Olerud Elmer Flick Joe Medwick Lou Boudreau Billy Herman Joe Torre Joe Kelley Bill Terry Robin Ventura Jack Clark Joe Gordon