Despite the long history of offseason successes in Los Angeles, the Lakers are having one of the worst summers in the franchise's existence.
Superstar center Dwight Howard took his talents to Houston, Metta World Peace was cut free via amnesty and Kobe Bryant is rehabilitating his injured Achilles, leaving little hope for the aging squad to win a title next season.
For these reasons and more, many fans have been entertaining the possibility of the Purple and Gold tanking. By floundering to a disastrous record, the Lakers will obtain a top pick in the loaded 2014 draft and likely score a player to build around in the future.
Let’s take a look at the front office’s current plans to address that situation and more in Tuesday's Laker roundup.
Rambis, Davis Added to Staff
Kurt Rambis and Johnny Davis, two stalwart figures in NBA circles, have joined head coach Mike D’Antoni’s staff in L.A.
According to ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin, Rambis and Davis were added as assistants on Monday and will provide some stability to a team that lacked just that a season ago.
Rambis has eight rings split between his time as a player, assistant and executive in the organization and understands the culture surrounding the Lakers. He will be invaluable as a liaison between ownership, front office staff, coaches and players.
The former big man is also a proven coach, as he held the title of lead assistant under Phil Jackson from 2001-04 and 2005-09 before becoming head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He’ll help to develop the players and keep D’Antoni’s system running smoothly.
While D’Antoni’s staff was stocked with notable names last year, these are quality hires that understand what it means to be a Laker.
There is no doubt they will help to win games and make an impact, which is why it's becoming clear the Lake Show isn't willing to give up on 2013-14 just yet.
Kupchak Still Wants to Win
General manager Mitch Kupchak has never been one to keel over to defeat, even with the odds against him.
It’s no wonder the front-office figurehead is telling reporters that the Lakers have zero intention of tanking next season and will do their best to win in spite of the situation's long odds.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan, Kupchak snapped back after being asked about taking a season off and acquiring a top draft pick:
You know that's not our plan. Our plan was to bring back Dwight Howard and that would have sky-rocketed our payroll. That's never a plan here with our fan base, to throw in the towel before the season begins. We always try to win, and that's what we're going to do this year.
Kupchak spoke at length about Bryant’s injury and his possible early return, then mentioned that the presence of veterans Steve Nash and Pau Gasol—plus the new additions to the roster—should create a formidable lineup.
As for plans for next summer, the GM was understandably mum:
“You have to look beyond next year. You can't say we have all this flexibility and we're going to use it all next year. You don't know if you're going to use it for a free agent or a trade or to sign back Pau or Kobe.”
Should the Lakers tank next season?
Kupchak went on to call the market “unpredictable” and noted that his club is in a good position on the rebuilding “cycle.”
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he plays the market next offseason and what he decides to do in terms of extensions for the current stars.
Those decisions will likely depend on which free agents are available and interested, but, knowing the Lakers, anything can happen.