Kobe Bryant is done for the season, but he's already eyeballing next year with high expectations.
"It's my job to go out there on the court and perform. No excuses for it. You have to get it done," Bryant said in a news conference on Wednesday, after being declared out for the season. "Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, the same expectations I have for them up there."
Patience may be the wise path, but if Bryant's advice is to be heeded, the Lakers would need to scrap some of their grander, long-term plans and act with a win-now mentality.
The bigger question is how. How do the Lakers go from a 22-42 season (through Wednesday) to a title contender in just a year?
The first step would involve the Lakers trading their lottery pick.
Trade the 2014 first-round pick for a veteran (Kevin Love)
A young player may be the better investment, but a young prospect isn't likely to help propel the Lakers to contender status in Year 1. Equally, a top-five pick could be a valuable trade asset for teams with veteran stars looking for a new home.
Kevin Love can opt out of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves after next season. Given the Timberwolves (32-31) continue to struggle on the wrong side of the playoff bubble, Love may look to relocate after the 2014-15 season.
Do the Wolves just wait for him to leave or do they look to get compensation for their All-Star forward?
The Lakers would have to wait until they have cap room in July, but a verbal agreement can be reached on draft night with the Lakers picking for Minnesota.
Another veteran possibility for the pick, instead of Love, might be Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers are unlikely to trade All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, even for a top selection in the draft.
Carmelo Anthony is expected be a free agent, but the Lakers would be hard pressed to build a contender around him, if he’s looking to earn over $20 million a season.
Waive and stretch Steve Nash's contract
To continue their win-now plan, the Lakers would need to use the NBA's stretch provision on Nash, waiving him while reducing his salary to $3.2 million for the next three seasons.
While that would increase the Lakers' cap room this season, it would diminish their spending power slightly for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
Trading Nash would certainly be better. Perhaps the Lakers can find a team looking to shed a veteran on a long-term deal -- perhaps Jarrett Jack of the Cavaliers.
Assuming the Lakers don't find a trade partner, and in the name of winning quickly, Nash could be released.
Without Nash, the Lakers could have up to $13.4 million in cap space to add another player to join Bryant and Love.