They made history of a different kind Wednesday with a lineup you'd barely recognize, the franchise bottoming out with the worst season in its 67-year existence.
The fine print was a 122-99 loss to the
"It's tough, man," veteran
Indeed, the Lakers finished 27-55 last year, cause for a party compared to what happened this season.
In the NBA business since 1948, the Lakers (21-61) have won plenty of championships, one as recently as 2010, but almost nothing was encouraging this season. Few people were spared.
As everything started tilting the wrong way,
Bryant unleashed a rant during a December scrimmage, calling teammates "soft like Charmin" and yelling at innocent bystander General Manager
The medical news was just as unsettling. Bryant had a third consecutive season cut short because of injury (torn rotator cuff). Nash didn't even get through exhibition play because of a bad back and then irritated fans by whacking golf balls at a driving range and posting video of it on Instagram. Rookie
Not everything was dreary. Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list on a chilly Minneapolis night, and rookie point guard
After a calamitous six months, there remains one possible Lakers savior — a plastic hopper with several numbered ping-pong balls.
The Lakers will have the fourth slot going into the May 19 draft lottery but it becomes a game of chance. There's a 37.8% shot of moving into the top three picks, 11.9% specifically for No. 1. There's also a 17.2% chance of falling to sixth or seventh in the lottery and forfeiting their top-five protected pick because of the Nash trade.
Regardless of that outcome, and the Lakers would undeniably be devastated to cough up their spot in such a talented draft, only a handful of present-day players will return. Four have guaranteed contracts: Bryant ($25 million), Young ($5.2 million), Randle ($3.1 million) and
Clarkson and Tarik Black will be back with non-guaranteed contracts for $845,059.
Of the unrestricted free agents, it would be a surprise if Boozer and Lin returned after never seeming to fit into Scott's system.
Ed Davis will decline a $1.1-million player option, become an unrestricted free agent and probably price himself out of the Lakers' range for his services.
Hill has a $9-million team option that was a no-brainer when he played exceedingly well earlier this season. Then he fell too hard for his outside shot, taking his stats down with him.
With so many injuries, the Lakers went with the following starters Wednesday at Staples Center: Brown, Black, Kelly, Hill and Vander Blue.
They trailed at halftime, 67-53, with history seemingly only 24 minutes away.
It happened, of course,
It was an ugly game for the Lakers, a fitting finish to season-long imperfection. Some fans cheered when it was announced there were two minutes left to play.
Even Scott seemed relieved on the final day.
"I think [Thursday] when I wake up, the sense will be more of, 'OK, let's get ready for next year,'" he said. "I'm more excited about that probably than anything."