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1314-LoveWhat started as a feel-good season for the Los Angeles Lakers has suddenly taken a turn for the worse.

The fast-paced young Lakers have now turned into the injury-plagued Lakers.

The Lakers are without superstar guard Kobe Bryant (knee), guards Steve Blake (elbow) and Steve Nash (back), and now have added Xavier Henry (knee) to that list. Luckily, Los Angeles has gotten back Jordan Farmer and Pau Gasol, who were both handling injuries of their own, so there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, losing is forbidden for the Lakers, but the fact of the matter is the team is going nowhere. The team sits at 13-19 and, just like many predicted, are 12th in the West. This Kobe-less Lakers team is starting to lose games to even the bottom teams of the NBA, with recent losses to Utah, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, which means the team is starting to find themselves in that position as well.

With a draft that’s loaded with talent this year, the Lakers are starting to look like they may be serious players come the June draft. And every team knows those ping pong balls can change team’s futures.

If the Lakers can get into the top 10 in the draft, they will definitely find a player who will help them move forward. Whether it’s Julius Randle of Kentucky, Australian sensation Dante Exum, or Arizona star Aaron Gordon, Los Angeles will walk away with a cornerstone for the future.

Now let’s take the fact that the front office will have some flexibility in the off-season, as they will have enough money to bring in one max contract player and a summer market that is expected to be headlined by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Nevertheless, the front office must be really careful with its spending, especially with a 2015 class that includes the likes of Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge. Two years does seem like a long time from now, but Los Angeles is indeed in no position to just throw money at any random player, but rather must find a solid piece to build a championship team. One of these men will definitely help Los Angeles achieve that.

That now brings us to Pau Gasol. Yes, he’s been everything an organization can ask for. He’s helped bring two championships to Los Angeles, he’s loyal to the team, and an overall great team player, but in this transitioning process there is no room for the Big Spaniard.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne have reported that a potential “Pau Gasol for Andrew Bynum” swap could be in the works. This would save the Lakers $20 million in salary and luxury taxes after they release the troubled center, which would definitely benefit Los Angeles heading into these next two summers.

But whether it’s through a trade or just not re-signing Pau, his days in the purple and gold are numbered.

Lastly, let’s not forget Kobe Bryant.

This 2013 season is all but done for the Lakers, which should end Kobe’s season and probably signal the “Return of the Mamba” in 2014. By re-signing Kobe to the 2-year/$48 million contract, it showed that the organization wants to make one more run at an NBA title with Kobe leading the way. With a year of rest could go along way especially with this new injury. So nobody should worry about Kobe, because come the next two years he will be laced, healthy, and ready to go.

So, yes Laker fans, this isn’t the ideal season we had pictured. But in the grand scheme of things, this gets the Los Angeles Lakers out of mediocrity and into a future that could lead Los Angeles into a position they’re used to: contending for a title. So enjoy it now Laker haters because this is not the end of the Lakers, but could very well be the beginning.

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