How This Off Season Will Restore The Lakers and 76ers
Posted By: Mark Wilson on 6/22/2016
It's been a long road for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers the past few seasons. What will they do with it?
Either by choice or default both franchises has gone through some trying times but the end of the tunnel seems to be closer than one might think. With the NBA again raising the salary cap higher this coming offseason to almost $94 million we should see both teams look at their roster then balance their checkbooks, glance at their roster again, smile, then get to work.
But as we noticed last season, just because you have the money doesn't mean that players want to take it. If that was the case the New York Knicks would be leading the Atlantic Division and the Lakers highlights of the season would not be the pre-game Kobe Bryant introductions.
But help is on the way depending on how bad both franchises really want it. The 76ers will enter next season with a payroll of $31.6 million and the Lakers at $26.1 million. That's a ton of money left on the books to throw around.
The Lakers are in the best position out of the two as they possibly have the most loyal fan base in the NBA and a roster with a few potential NBA ready players. With Bryant's and Roy Hibbert's contracts set to come off the books the Lakers can REALLY look towards the future and with the team getting the 2nd overall pick this year they can build on the cheap but spend high on results. With rumors swirling around concerning Kevin Durant or DeMar DeRozan they have high quality players in their sights, it's just a matter of do those players value the Lakers the same? The Lakers are in no position to make any trades as they must look towards building for the future and keeping this core together of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle.
The 76ers on the other hand are tanking vets but really don't have the players to show for all their hard work (or lack thereof). While losing has yielded them Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, neither players has shown they could be the cornerstone of the future. The 76ers are in a different boat as they have tried to build cheaply but it has backfired. They will have the #1 pick, but now must decide if the rebuilding stage is over or is it finally time to compete with the rest of the NBA.
You can't draft a whole roster in a year, the Sixers have tried. But what they do have will be funds in the $50 million ballpark range. What should they do is the question that looms? Be smart, but be aggressive at the same time. If Embiid is healthy at the start of the 2016 season then what? You have three low post players but only 2 starting positions. Embiid is not a bench player and neither is Okafor or Noel. What are they to do? Rumors are swirling that the Sixers are in trade talks with the Boston Celtics for Okafor and the Celtics 3rd pick. If that were to happen it would greatly benefit both teams for next season and beyond.
They seem to be good in the PG situation with the recently acquired Ish Smith but SG and SF is still an area of concern. The 76ers announced today that they will take Ben Simmons with the top pick in Thursday's draft and while I don't agree with the choice there is no denying his talent. If they can pitch growth to the 2016 crop of free agents they might have a shot at landing one big name and possibly two solid role players.
It should be easy for players to see the potential of playing with two young studs in the low post in Okafor and Noel, or for the Lakers chances with Russell, Clarkson and Randle. So who's to say you can't sell a great vision to Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon or Bradley Beal in 2016 then go after more big fish in 2017 to pair with the players you signed the year before.
Think about it. Both cities are still major markets despite their current fall from grace. The fan bases are still loyal but what should entice these free agents-to-be could be the cap space. This has been the era of the Super Teams, and either money, pride or age has dismantled each but what if neither was the case?
If Kobe was the reason players didn't want to play in LA then what will be the reason now? If players were afraid of the 76ers rebuilding process what will the excuse be when they start to sit and talk with the top players now? The Boston Celtics Big 3 got old, The Miami Heat's group tried the friendship route until it ran its course. The Cleveland Cavaliers group looks out of sync, forced together and that will end in soon despite their Championship.
With Kobe out, Clarkson will handle SG duties with Russell manning the point. Randle will handle the PF spot, but now they have the means to go after a Durant and possibly LeBron James in 2017. But please believe that all is not lost if they do now sign either player. Rudy Gobert, Jeff Withey, DeMar DeRozan, Jeff Green or Nicolas Batum are all still serviceable players that could mesh well with the current roster.
Like the Lakers, the 76ers are in great position to to have a wining team in 2 years. All it takes is the right player to say and show they believe but it has to be in the public's eye. Just that one player to say "I Believe" and the rest of the dominoes will start to fall. The Lakers have their core, the 76ers have the pieces and money and if all goes according to plan they will have 2 of the top 3 players in this years draft. Talk about a future.
The 76ers and the Lakers may have stumbled for the last few seasons but they finally have a shot to redeem themselves and put their franchises back on the map.