The LA Lakers fell to the Dallas Mavericks 98-102 Friday night in Dallas Texas. Thus making their record so far into the season 9-21, which is an uncharacteristically bad start for the team.
The Lakers are not strangers to winning. They are the most successful team in the National Basketball League with sixteen championships. While it’s only been almost fives years since they last won the championship, having a 9-21 record at this point in the season raises the question, what’s going on in Los Angeles?
Some would say that part of the problem is that Kobe Bryant’s contract is part of the problem. Which is a valid point, Kobe is getting a hefty sum of money to retire as a Laker and if he had signed the monstrous contract years ago it would make sense. But Kobe hasn’t been playing at a champion level in past couple of years and the 36 year old shooting guard has been suffered injuries that kept him from playing a large majority of the 2013-14 season. His performance aside, his contract also raises the issue of then limiting what kind of talent the Lakers can get because they don’t have a lot money to play with. The salary cap is always a bone of contention for professional sports teams because it limits the kind of talent a team can get.
The Lakers’ roster feels a tad bit to be desired. Besides Kobe, the team doesn’t really have a lot of star power. Sure, they signed Jeremy Lin over the summer and everyone remembers Lin-sanity in New York when the point guard came out of nowhere to help the Knicks win games while Carmelo Anthony was out, but that was years ago and Lin isn’t performing at that high level all the time. The signing of Carlos Boozer was interesting considering his lackluster performance with the Bulls, which it would seem only leaves Kobe as the only star on the team. But one player doesn’t a team make.
Looking at the teams 9-21 ranking, it would seem that tanking would be the only option. Tanking would allow the Lakers to try and land a top draft pick next year that could hopefully help propel the team back into the playoffs. But Kobe’s contract will still be an issue, unless the Lakers decide to cut ties with the shooting guard (which seems highly unlikely Kobe will retire a Laker). So until the Lakers don’t have Kobe’s contract hanging over their head they seem destined to continue to have lackluster seasons, they need that cap room to build a quality team.