The moment many have been waiting for all season is finally here. May 19th. The date that, if real life were NBA 2K, most Los Angeles Lakers fans would have wanted to sim forward to the second Julius Randle was carried off the court at Staples Center on a stretcher.
Kobe Bryant's injury, Ronnie Price and Carlos Boozer being focal points of the team, and each episode of "Wait, Byron Scott said what now?" only added to the misery. The Lakers' draft pick only being top-five protected led to stress with every win. It turned into a bitter affair of having to root against their team, and sometimes we were even unable to enjoy the Lakers' diamond in the rough, Jordan Clarkson.
Combine all of these things and you have a recipe for not only the losingest, but by far the most miserable season in Lakers history. That it so obviously can be described that way is an impressive ode to its suckitude, given that only two short years ago fans rode the stinky, Dwight Howard-fart tainted roller coaster ride of the "This is Going to Be Fun" Lakers, and only one year prior dealt with a squad that set the record for win-loss futility this years' team managed to break.
NBA Draft Lottery
NBA Draft Lottery
Lakers fans can only lament for so long, though. The team still has its 16 Championship banners, whether Doc Rivers covers them up or not. This is a franchise that has experienced tremendous success, and three consecutive down years is nothing compared to what some other franchises have endured.
But all that is (hopefully) behind us now. The lottery is here to offer relief after a season of misery. Whether the Lakers keep the pick or not, at least the longest and most torturous game of "will-they or won't-they" outside of a TV sitcom will be over.
Should the Lakers selection stick in the top-five, the vulturous Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers will be forced to flee the carcass of the Lakers' 2014-15 season, their draft pick compensation deferred at least another year. Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, D'Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Justise Winslow, any of these players could be suiting up in purple and gold armor next season if the Lakers retain their lottery pick in a draft as loaded with talent and potential as almost any.
If not? Well, after most of the greater Los Angeles area is done weeping, there are still some silver linings in that playbook. They aren't quite as beautiful as the Jennifer Lawrence scenario of keeping the pick, but they can still serve to make the upcoming season more enjoyable than the abomination that we just witnessed.
If the Lakers' pick does go to Philly, at least the team is guaranteed its 2016 first-rounder no matter where it lands. It probably won't be as valuable as this year's selection, but at least the night-to-night stress of whether a random Jeremy Lin or Ed Davis outburst costing the Lakers their pick won't hang over everyone's head.
The Lakers will also have a ton of cap space to add a few impact free agents if that is the route the organization decides to go. Or the team could run things back with a bunch of rental players on cheap one-year deals and roll their cap space forward to the Summer of Durant in 2016. Fans will still get to watch Randle, Clarkson, and whoever the team gets with the Rockets' first round selection develop. That selection is not necessarily a throwaway, with Clarkson demonstrating the front office's ability to find talent outside of the lottery.
While these options would still be on the table if the Lakers kept the pick, it just means the cupboard of things to watch for game-to-game will not be as bare as it was in 2015, and the future will look less bleak and uncertain. The team is finally done paying for the mistake the Steve Nash trade turned into.
Certainty is the key blessing to come out of tonight's lottery. One way or another, the big moment is nearing. The draft lottery is almost upon us, and no matter what happens, at least the waiting and wondering if the draft pick severing axe is going to drop will be over, and we can all get back to thinking about basketball.
You can follow this author @hmfaigen