Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and her brother Jim did an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne about the state of the franchise.
The Lakers have not only one of the worst records in the NBA at 6-16, but also an incentive to stay bad, at least for the rest of the 2014-2015 season.
Because of the 2012 Steve Nash trade, LA keeps its 2015 first-round pick only if it’s in the top five. If it’s sixth or higher, it goes to Phoenix.
Because the team has little hope of making the playoffs anyway, a lot of people think they just trade away their valuable pieces, try to be as bad as possible, and keep their draft pick. There’s some speculation that this has been the team’s secret plan all along, but LA has been adamant it is not tanking.
When asked about tanking, Jeanie Buss said her team would never do it. Her explanation is pretty interesting. It isn’t really about ethics; it’s about player development:
The teams that use tanking as a strategy are doing damage. If you’re in tanking mode, that means you’ve got young players who you’re teaching bad habits to. I think that’s unforgivable. If you’re tanking and you have young players or you keep a short roster, you’re playing guys out of their position or too many minutes, you’re risking injury. It’s irresponsible and I don’t think it belongs in any league.
Are the Sixers ruining guys like Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, and K.J. McDaniels by playing them 35 minutes per game on the worst team in the league?
Some would argue the opposite — that giving young players more minutes speeds development and helps teams identify strengths and weaknesses.
But even if you believe that tanking is detrimental to player development in the long-term, the incentive to be bad enough to get a top-five pick in 2015 is overwhelming for the Lakers. The difference between being the fourth-worst team in the league and the eighth-worst team in the league is the difference between getting a potential franchise-altering player and getting no one.
The Lakers need that pick, and it wouldn’t take much to get it. LA has the fifth-worst record in the NBA. If the team trades someone like Jeremy Lin (who’s on an expiring contract and won’t be back with the team next year anyway), it could possibly get a second-round draft pick back and improve its chances of finishing in the bottom five and keeping its pick.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.