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Lakers’ Luke Walton says he doesn’t believe in tanking

Lakers Coach Luke Walton works from the bench during his team's 122-73 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas on Jan. 22.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

As things stand right now, the Lakers (16-32) are poised to, once again, be in contention for a lottery pick.

Tanking to ensure a high draft pick has been a strategy used by teams recently, but it’s not one in which Lakers Coach Luke Walton believes.

“I don’t believe in it,” Walton said. “I believe in trying to play the right way and have a culture that you’re gonna try to win no matter what. You start losing on purpose, I think the basketball gods come back to get you in the long run. Good things aren’t gonna work out for you. We try to do things the right way around here, which means we’re going to play to win. That’s just us.”

It’s a strategy that has seemed to net results for some teams. The Philadelphia 76ers asked their fans to “trust the process” as they turned their focus away from wins for the past few seasons. It’s netted them the first overall pick in 2016 (Ben Simmons) the third overall pick in 2015 (Jahlil Okafor) and the third overall pick in 2014 (Joel Embiid, who is finally playing his first real NBA season after two seasons of injuries).

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The 76ers still have the third-worst record in the East, with only 15 wins, but have shown promising signs.

Walton was asked about the dangers of spending too much time in the lottery.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it,” Walton said. “Philly’s been there for a while. They look like they’re doing pretty well right now but they’re still a long way from being a true contender. I would prefer not to be stuck in the lottery for very long.”

tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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