There’s a lot of schadenfreude around the league as everyone watches the Lakers struggle to a 1-9 start. This is an organization that through a combination of shrewd and clever management, the lure of a big market, and some luck have been the most consistently successful franchise in the NBA for the last few decades. There have not been many downs and the ones that did come were not deep and didn’t last that long.
It feels different now. This team is terrible. The Lakers’ plan to get out of that spot is a tried and true formula for them — lure top free agents with the advantages of a big market plus the money to offer max contracts (plus for the next year at least the chance to play with Kobe Bryant). It’s worked before.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Los Angeles sports news icon Fred Roggin on his Beast 980 radio show he’s not sure that strategy is going to work as well as it has before. Then he laughingly said he hopes this latest slide continues. Forever.
“As far as the Lakers go, I think there are going to be a lot of teams that are saying, ‘I’ve got a ton of cap room,’ and signing three big free agents to come play for them. Los Angeles has always been considered a destination city, so maybe they feel that’s a valid strategy. You know me, Fred. Personally, I just hope they suck forever.”
Cuban said he has always tried to be a contrarian in the NBA, when all the teams gravitated toward one strategy he went the other way. Right now, with the coming bump in the salary cap due to revenue from the new $24 billion television deal, there are going to be a lot of teams with genuine cap space to spend. Teams that really only need one piece to contend will even have room to maneuver. Which means a crowded marketplace for the Lakers.
That said, history suggests betting against the Lakers is not the smart play.