On Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers will make their final appearance at Staples Center for the 2013-14 NBA season.
One last time, the hobbled, hampered and beaten Lakers will take their home floor. The explain how the team accumulated a LA Lakers record 54 losses is not difficult looking at the squad available on Sunday night.
Future Hall-of-Famers Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are all unavailable. Young standouts Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry are consumed with scheduling and recovering from surgeries rather than preparing to play again this season. Veteran Chris Kaman is also out.
In all, nine Lakers will be available on Sunday against the Grizzlies, a team battling for the playoffs.
At the final home shootaround, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni revealed that stand-in starting center Jordan Hill was suffering migraines in the morning, but the coach expected Hill to be available and start on Sunday evening.
Joining Hill in the front court should be rookie Ryan Kelly. Not expected to play a central role in the team at the start of the season, Kelly earned extended time due to injuries that struck the Lakers early in the season. As a rookie, the former Duke Blue Devil took part in 56 games and made 22 starts entering Sunday's game. With three games remaining, Kelly should also start the final three games of the season.
Wesley Johnson should retain his starting spot at small forward, as Henry and Bazemore are both out for the season. Johnson has struggled to display consistent form this season, but the Lakers do not have any better options at the moment.
At point guard, Kendall Marshall expects to make his 43rd start of the season. Marshall joined the Lakers from the Development League in late December. For his first five games, Marshall struggled to get on the court. After Henry went down injured, Marshall played in every game for the Lakers and started a healthy majority of those games.
At shooting guard, the Lakers have their most improved player and the most consistent player on the team. Jodie Meeks is the one player the Lakers are guaranteed to actively target in free agency, and Meeks sounded like he wanted to be back wearing purple and gold when talking to reporters during the Lakers’ final practice on Saturday. Meeks cited “weather” as one of the reason he loved playing in LA.
To say this is the weakest starting lineup in Los Angeles Lakers history is not inaccurate. The Lakers are worse than they’ve ever been since moving to LA.
The Lakers’ bench still has Nick Young, who is a talented scorer, and Jordan Farmar, who is probably a better point guard than Marshall. Second-year Robert Sacre has improved leaps and bounds from a season ago, but he is far from a developed product. MarShon Brooks, the last player on the Lakers’ short bench, is out of the Lakers’ rotation and did not play in the Lakers’ loss to the Warriors.
On Sunday, these Lakers are not expected to win against the Grizzlies, and frankly, no one would be surprised if this team lost all three remaining games.
Thankfully, the season is almost over, and finally, Sunday night will be the last time the Lakers play a home game this season.