The Lakers hit a low point on Thursday night, getting destroyed by the Clippers in a 48-point drubbing.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak was caught on the national TNT broadcast with a clearly displeased facial expression as his team suffered its largest margin of defeat in franchise history.
Kupchak and the Lakers had every intention of competing this season, but Kobe Bryant's return from an Achilles tear didn't last long when he suffered a knee fracture in his sixth game of the season.
Bryant likely won't make it back before the end of the year, and the season for the 21-41 Lakers has become more about evaluating young players and placing high in the 2014 NBA draft than winning games.
The Lakers have the fifth-worst record in the NBA and are only slightly ahead of the 20-41 Boston Celtics and the 19-44 Orlando Magic. Though they won't catch the Milwaukee Bucks (12-48) and the Philadelphia 76ers (12-48), the third worst record is still a definite possibility.
The NBA draft lottery rewards ineptitude and though Kupchak and the Lakers never expected the season to hit such lows, they'll be hoping to land an impact player as a sort of restitution.
The draft pool could include Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins (both of Kansas), Jabari Parker (Duke), Dante Exum (Australia), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and Noah Vonleh (Indiana), to name a few.
Kupchak will also have financial flexibility in pursuing free agents as the Lakers project to fall under the league salary cap in 2014, and possibly in 2015 and 2016.
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