The Los Angeles Lakers have been an absolute spectacle this season, between the blockbuster trades in the offseason, coach Mike Brown’s firing after a mere five games, the Pau Gasol trade rumors and what has been a poor start to the season—under .500 record—for a group many projected to win the Western Conference.
Things just haven’t gone the team’s way, and their luck recently has been getting worse. There is a legitimate chance that the Lakers will actually miss the postseason. Even if they crawl their way in, there is hardly any historical precedent for a squad like this winning the NBA Finals.
Let’s take a look at the latest happenings around L.A. and try to find some good news for disheartened fans of the Purple and Gold.
Jordan Hill Exception
The Lakers' backup big man will likely be undergoing season-ending surgery in the immediate future, leaving the team short by one man. If the L.A. brass is going to spend more than the minimum on a replacement, they have to apply for the disabled-player exception by Tuesday.
Should the Lakers inquire about the disabled player exception?
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, if the franchise is approved, they will receive $1.78 million to put towards a free agent (or trade for an expiring contract worth up to $1.88 million) due to Hill’s hip injury.
This exception would certainly give the Lake Show more flexibility and leverage to sign a productive big, but it would also cost them a prohibitive amount of money due to the team already being over the cap, in the luxury tax and having approximately $100 million in payroll.
It will be interesting to see if GM Mitch Kupchak decides to petition the league for the exception or just leaves it alone on Tuesday.
While the Lakers are certainly alive in the postseason race with a 16-21 record, it’s going to take a much stronger effort than the team has put forth so far in 2012-13.
Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times feels that the squad needs to win three out of every four over the remaining 45 games in order to secure either a No. 6, No. 7 or No. 8 seed.
While that is realistic, Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus (via ESPN Insider, behind pay wall) believes the Lakers have virtually no chance of winning a championship this spring.
Here is his reasoning, which makes sense and has historical backing:
If you don't get a top-three seed, you're not winning a championship. In the 36 seasons since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, 23 No. 1 seeds have won championships, or 64 percent. Twelve more titles have been claimed by No. 2 and No. 3 seeds -- six each, or 17 percent. The other title was claimed by a No. 6 seed, the 1994-95 Houston Rockets, who, of course, had the benefit of winning a championship together the season before.
It would take the Lakers not only beating the odds, but somehow going against nearly every trend in modern basketball to win a title.
L.A. finally secured a win on Sunday night, beating up on the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and hoping to parlay that success into a streak.
Antawn Jamison put it all in perspective after the game, as per Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Nobody's going to feel sorry about this team that's been assemble. When things are going south and going the way we don't want to go, a lot of other teams are happy to see that. There's no more excuses. It's not the coaches, it's not the guys not being out there. Whoever is out there on the court, we have enough talent to win games.
The forward is absolutely correct in his assessments of the team and the prevailing opinion of it around the league.
This is far too talented a group to continue losing and remain five games under .500 for long. We fully expect the Lake Show to turn things around sooner rather than later, otherwise even more drastic changes could be on the horizon.