When asked about tanking in the hopes of keeping the Los Angeles Lakers’ top pick, head coach Luke Walton certainly didn’t mince words. As much as he might not like it, however, his team might not have a choice, especially given the way they’ve been playing lately.
Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News got the full quote:
Lakers started off well enough to talk playoffs. Now they might be lottery bound. Luke Walton's take on tanking pic.twitter.com/DXtXg9WoE5— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 24, 2017
The first statement slightly misses the point. No one has hinted at the Lakers doing whatever they can to lose games for the rest of the season. Heck, even compared to the last couple years, it probably isn’t a stretch to think fans will stop somewhere short of hoping the losses pile up.
For the Lakers’ remaining 34 games, they may not go out of their way to lose, it only seem like it because the majority of the roster is still trying to figure out what it takes to win games in the NBA. So, Walton can rest easy knowing the basketball gods might not frown upon the inevitable losing.
Luke’s second statement is a little more interesting, but again touches upon what it’s like to root for young teams.
Losing follows teams as they find their way. It’s why most smart rebuilds feature a combination of youth and veteran leadership. The days of the Lakers simply winding up with the kind of superstar who would completely change their outlook disappeared with the last couple iterations of the collective bargaining agreement. Outside of trading all or a good portion of their young core to restart around a star nearing the wrong side of 30, the Lakers are tied to this process.
While that might sound daunting, Luke was hired for the long-term. If he and the Lakers don’t want to remain bound for the lottery for the foreseeable future, it’s on them to steer away from that path.