Updated 03:56 AM EST, Thu, Mar 04, 2021

Lakers News and Rumors: After Kobe Bryant's Season-Ending Injury, Should L.A. Tank To Win Big in NBA Draft?

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When it rains, it pours, and the stormy weather around the Los Angeles Lakers' dismal NBA season seems to have gotten gloomier with the news that their brightest star, Kobe Bryant, is out for the season.

The Lakers held a press conference Wednesday announcing that Bryant, the former 2007-08 NBA MVP and 16-time NBA All-Star, is out for the season thanks to the lateral tibial plateau left knee fracture that he has been dealing with since late December. At a time when the Lakers are plummeting further down the NBA standings with a 22-42 record as of March 13 -dead last in the Pacific Division, with the Lakers having lost six of their last 10 games - this news could not have come at a worse time for them. And it seems to have gotten worse with Thursday's news from the L.A. Times, on Twitter, that injured NBA legend Steve Nash (back) is now being ruled out for the season, as well.

But perhaps, the inevitable playoff-less season that they seem to be on a collision course with could be a blessing in disguise for the Lakers. And no, we're not just talking about the free agency bonanza that L.A. seems to be gearing up for this summer. (Hello, Carmelo Anthony!)

The Lakers, who could also be looking to make a change at the head coach position with Bryant reportedly not interested in playing under Mike D'Antoni again, could be in prime position for a high lottery pick in what is expected to be a talent-loaded 2014 NBA Draft in June, with young up-and-coming stars like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle up for grabs in a lottery that can change a few needy franchises' fortunes for the better.

And taking a look at Andrew Wiggins in this highlight video, it's no wonder why teams would be lucky to get him this summer:

Perhaps the Lakers can be one of those lucky few, with a few more losses here and there.

Yes, the idea of "tanking" turns most fans' stomachs, and rightfully so. Who wants to watch or buy tickets to see their team get beaten time after time? Not many, odds are. However, consider the Lakers' situation. Kobe isn't a spring chicken anymore; he's 37-years-old. With fading knees. Who's to say how much longer the future Hall of Famer has left on the odometer? The Lakers are in a position where they need to start thinking about the future. Deep into the future. They did that years ago, in 1996, when they drafted Bryant, who was a high school kid at the time, to be their next great star. They turned out to right, as Bryant helped the Lakers raise five more NBA championship banners to the rafters.

But that was almost 20 years ago. The Kobe Bryant era is starting to draw to a close. He's most likely got another one or two years - not good years, years, period - left in him before the Black Mamba slithers off the court for the last time. And if that happens, what then? They don't have any young lion waiting in the wings. No savior is around for Lakers fans to pin their hopes on for the next few years. And that's not the way the Lakers roll. They're a franchise built on excellence. They're a relay-like team; when one star is near the end, he passes the baton on to the next great star, the way Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did to Magic Johnson, and Magic to Shaquille O'Neal, and O'Neal to Kobe. Dwight Howard was supposed to be that next big star, but he bolted for Houston last summer after reportedly not being able to get along with Kobe and having problems adjusting to D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense.

Outside of getting a young superstar, like Kevin Love, in free agency, most of the big stars available on the market over the next two summers are in their prime. That would get the Lakers a star, but not a player with a long shelf life that you could build an organization around for years and years to come. For that reason, they need to get a big lottery pick. With the losses piling up, they're on their way there anyway. They might as well just mail in the rest of the season and make it official; a few weeks of suffering could bring many years of success, in the end.


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