Worse yet, this loss was a milestone of the worst sort for the Purple and Gold. On a night when Steve Nash moved into third place among the NBA's all-time assists leaders, the Lakers set a mark of another sort.
The franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1960, so yes, it's been a while. It went 25-50 its last season in Minneapolis.
It's been a season Lakers fan would like to forget. Kobe Bryant played in just six games, and Steve Nash missed the vast majority of the season, instantly turning the season into more of a rebuilding effort than an attempt to make the playoffs.
The lackluster effort has turned many Lakers fans away, at least from their TVs. Variety's Rick Kissell reported in March that the franchise's ratings had taken a steep hit, writing, "the 57 telecasts of Lakers games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet have averaged 199,000 viewers — down a whopping 49% from last year at this time (390,000)."
Viewership could be the least of the organization's worries, though. Its main priority is likely determining whether head coach Mike D'Antoni will remain with the team next season. Sporting News' Sean Deveney reports that "Bryant, sources said, has 'no interest' in playing for D'Antoni next season, and wants a new coach in place for the 2014-15 season."
As NBC Sports' Kurt Helin put it, "D'Antoni is on thin ice however you view it. Everything in Los Angeles is not his fault — the Lakers have done a very poor job of giving him elite talent that fits his system (the roster was why he was an odd hire to begin with) — but he is going to take the fall. The question is when."
It could be sooner than later with lackluster efforts stacking up.
It's not just that the Lakers are losing. They're getting pounded and giving up 130 or more points on a seemingly regular basis. D'Antoni has never been known for his defensive chops, so that partly explains why he has the target on his back.
Where do the Lakers go from here?
They'll instantly improve with a healthy Bryant in 2014-15. According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, they're also likely to bring Steve Nash back for another season rather than cutting him and stretching his salary over the course of the next three seasons. With some veteran leadership in place throughout the season, you can expect significantly more accountability on the defensive end.
The rest of the roster is an open question, though. Pau Gasol may or may not be back, and there will be a handful of free-agent decisions to be made that will go a long way in shaping the rotation. L.A. will also have enough money to pursue a top-end free agent but may save some of its cap space for 2015.
No matter what happens, you can expect next season to be better than this one. It would be hard to go anywhere but up.
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