As long as losing doesn’t completely compromise construction of culture for the Los Angeles Lakers, so many checks in the loss column this season will prove a boon for the franchise’s long-term prospects. Unfortunately, coach Byron Scott doesn’t believe his mismatched team was able to stave off the influence of failure.
Ripping into the 20-56 Lakers’ collective mindset following Monday morning’s practice, Scott strongly suggested the squad’s roster is due a major overhaul in the offseason. Via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
“I got a sense of a whole lot of them I wouldn’t want to be in a fox hole with,” Scott said after Monday’s practice. “I think they’d end up shooting me in the back. So I’ve got a pretty good sense of the guys that I think are going to be around, that we will build around, build together in this process and go through it.”
Two of the players who will definitely be around come 2015-2016 are rookies Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Hoping to instill in his youngsters a sense of dedication and work ethic that Los Angeles’ veterans apparently have failed to this season, Scott reportedly had a “quick sit-down” with Clarkson and Randle to “teach those guys what it is to be a professional in this league and how to come to work every single day and get better.”
Who is Scott condemning, then?
His disdain for Nick Young’s approach to the game is basically public knowledge by this point, and Scott has openly questioned Swaggy P’s future with the club despite the two more guaranteed years on his contract. The former “Showtime” star has clashed with Jeremy Lin concerning on- and off- court developments this season, too, and the point guard is a free agent this summer. And though Scott has been less transparent about his relationship with Jordan Hill, the big man’s aversion to defense and shot-happy ways on the other end seem to make Los Angeles unlikely to pick up his contract option for next season.
This is a big summer for the Lakers, of course. The team will have hordes of cap space available to chase top-level free agents whether it lets Hill walk or not, and Rajon Rondo and Goran Dragic supposedly top its list. Why Los Angeles would want to curb the development of Clarkson by making him a backup or further limiting his playmaking opportunities is anyone’s guess, but the Mitch Kupchak seems hell-bent on adding a star point guard either way.
Barring a surprise turn of events with Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, or Kevin Love, though, what matters far more to the Lakers’ big-picture outlook is its likely top-five draft pick. And if any players already on the roster – save for Kobe Bryant, of course – have the potential to negatively impact the growth of that star rookie, Clarkson, and Randle, the purple-and-gold should absolutely cut ties with them. This organization needs to be thinking multiple seasons down the line as opposed to next spring, and sacrificing wins to better the chance of incubating a star is a trade-off well worth it.
To us, at least. But the Lakers have Bryant’s swan song to consider. If push comes to shove regarding player attitude, will Kupchak bite the bullet? We’re dubious, but Scott’s firm words suggest otherwise – an encouraging development in a season not filled with many.