The Kobe era is over and the purple-and-gold want something better. Preferably now, fast. (Jack Nicholson is 79!) But can they practice patience, too? What spells success for the Lakers after a year when they won just 17 games? Nobody is thinking 50 wins, that’s for sure, and they’ve invested in a young first-time head coach in former Lakers forward Luke Walton — signalling they expect a work in progress is afoot. Yes, the Lakers will watch the ping pong balls dance tonight with a solid 19.9% chance that the first pick in the 2016 NBA draft will be theirs. But is the master plan for the Lakers more about the season after next season? And does the Lakers future involve the two best players on the surging OKC Thunder?
Some Lakers fans’ dreams see UCLA alum Russell Westbrook returning to the coast when he becomes the most sought-after free agent in the NBA come 2017. That most sought-after free agent role will be played by Kevin Durant this summer, but there’s a scenario wherein one more year for KD in OKC works out better for him financially. That would mean both Durant and Westbrook would be available in 2017, after a young Lakers core unit with a brand new top pick has had time to mature. Westbrook, by the way, recently became the largest donor UCLA has ever had among its athlete alumni. He’s building a gym there. Convenient, isn’t it?
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) May 17, 2016