The Indiana Pacers Offseason, the anatomy of rebirth

Composite/Getty Images
Composite/Getty Images /
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PHOENIX – JANUARY 29: Shaquille O’Neal Kobe Bryant
PHOENIX – JANUARY 29: Shaquille O’Neal Kobe Bryant /

Los Angeles Lakers

Another team that didn’t bottom out is the Los Angeles Lakers. In the five years between Magic Johnson‘s first retirement and the acquisitions of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers stayed mostly competitive. They went to the playoffs in four of those five seasons, making the Western Conference Semi-Finals in ’95, and never picked higher than 10th (a selection which turned into All-Star Eddie Jones) in 1994.

The Lakers have a better track record of attracting free agents than the Pacers do, and that certainly influenced the way they approached their team building. Still, their process is instructive.

90’s Bulls

SALT LAKE CITY – JUNE 14: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
SALT LAKE CITY – JUNE 14: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen /

The Chicago Bulls pre-Michael Jordan hadn’t been good since 1975. Between ’76 and ’84, Chicago went to the playoffs once and lost 59 percent of their games. Then they drafted Michael Jordan… and had three straight losing seasons.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, they made the playoffs in each of those seasons (Michael’s Bulls never missed the playoffs), while quickly exiting in the first round each time.

The Bulls built their first three-peat through the draft, but not by bottoming out. Horace Grant was picked 10th in 1987, Scottie Pippen was traded for that same season by swapping picks with Seattle, BJ Armstrong came 18th overall in 1989 and they even grabbed Toni Kukoc 29th in 1990.