But the Lakers aren’t supposed to be the boys of summer

For a fan base seeking any ray of optimism to bask under, I understand Lakers fans rejoicing that the newbies won NBA Summer League in Vegas last night. I’m in the same boat. I’d rather feel good than to remember the disaster the franchise became since the passing of Jerry Buss. Swaggy P? Buss family legal infighting? #TheLakersAreSoWhite? Timofey Mosgov?

But you do realize this is akin to being the valedictorian in summer school, right? No student applying to Harvard would include that on the application.

True, the Lakers are right now better than they were at any point in the last four years. However, that’s an indication of how low the bar was set.

Any improvement by the Lakers in the last few weeks had nothing to do with a handful of games near a casino. You just haven’t been able to see that yet because with the exception of Lonzo Ball, most of those Summer League players will not make an impact during the upcoming season.

The Lakers upgraded in at least two, and as many as four, positions in the starting lineup. That’s what should make you happier.

Brook Lopez at center and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard are genuine improvements over Mosgov and Jordan Clarkson. They are simply more versatile, particularly at the defensive end. This matters because in the NBA, defense is suspect. In Los Angeles, defense was nonexistent. 

Further, second-year forward Brandon Ingram was the one untouchable player in a tsunami of Lakers trade rumors, meaning his future is far brighter than Luol Deng’s anything.

And Ball appears to be better right now than D’Angelo Russell ever was. True, analysts took Ball to task for his poor shooting and defense. People took Magic Johnson to task for poor shooting as a rookie, too. I have no problem giving Ball time to develop accuracy in his shot because if those Summer League games proved anything, it’s that the kid is a sniper in terms of passing.

Now for the reasons to curb your enthusiasm: Any other names from the Lakers summer team that you throw at me and I’ll give you the same reply. Maybe they make the team, but the only remaining starting player on the hot seat is Julius Randle.

Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma aren’t starting. They’re guards. Thomas Bryant is a center. He’s probably third on the depth chart behind Lopez and Ivica Zubac. Maybe Zubac or Bryant or Larry Nance Jr. pry the inconsistent and undersized Randle from the lineup. I wouldn’t mind seeing that. I’d miss Randle about as much as any of you pine for Russell right now.

Does this column read a little cold? It should. When you haven’t won 30 games in a few years, that’s a frigid reality. Johnson was right when he took over the team. Only Ingram was an untouchable. If Johnson didn’t fall in love with the Lakers youth movement of the last few years, why should you? The results aren’t there.

As for the results this year? The smart money is LA winds up with about 35 wins, forfeits its first-round draft pick as the result of horrible trades you don’t remember them making and possibly firing Luke Walton to lure top tier free agents.

It’s time to realize what the Lakers don’t have

I’m about to marginally insult people I’ve never met — namely, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. I don’t like doing it, because they don’t seem like horrible people. And it’s kind of a cheap shot.

It has to be done in the name of tough love.

Not for their sakes. They don’t give a damn about me.

It has to be done for Lakers fans — who have started to see this roster get torn asunder by the new leadership team of Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. It had to be ripped to pieces because what was put together by the scatterbrained Jim Buss looked like a quilt for puppies. It looks cute in a photo, but in real life it’s a rag that stinks up the entire house.

But you’re wrong, James. This is a young core that needs to develop! Give them time!

Um, how much time? Especially when you can clear salary cap room for players in the prime of their career who have already developed. You have no idea if Randle will be better than Paul Pierce. I wouldn’t wager on it. And don’t insult my intelligence by saying Clarkson will ever approach Russell Westbrook.

Not that I believe both Pierce and Westbrook, or Pierce and LeBron James, or Pierce and insert-megastar-here are sure to come to LA. But maximum contracts in exciting cities with player-friendly ownership groups go a long way.

How can anyone argue that wagering on the future of inconsistent players is superior to the certainty of perennial all-stars? True, Russell scored 40 points in a game against the Cavaliers. He is also the 17th-most turnover prone player in a league of about 450 people. He averaged 2.8 per game. Considering when a point guard turns a ball over, it is often at midcourt, that’s the equivalent of about three breakaway layups every game.

You can’t have that. Even worse came public feuds with coaches, a breach of trust with his teammates by posting an embarrassing video to social media and telling Lakers fans that they expect too much.

Lonzo Ball is unlikely to blast his coaches, tell Lakers fans to pipe down or betray the fellas in the locker room. … OK, maybe his father, but let’s withhold judgment.

So why Randle and Clarkson? Well, Clarkson doesn’t even start. There is no such thing as an indispensable reserve on a team that can’t win 30 games. As for Randle, how can I put this?

Consider that the Lakers had no leadership last year. That was, in my opinion, by design. First-year coach Luke Walton inherited a team of young players and — like Phil Jackson used to do — let his players try to figure it out. That whole thing you hear about “whose team it is”? How the Wizards are John Wall’s team. The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team? Well, if those younger players were worth the hassle, one of them would have taken the reins. One would have busted his rear, produced big numbers and insisted his teammates follow his lead.

Randle didn’t. He, too, was as inconsistent as Russell. Given a chance to make a name for himself, Randle scored 13.2 points per game — a mere two points better than his first full season. Even worse, his rebounds per game dropped. And this guy is supposed to be a power forward?

Now, he’s still on the roster, for now. But Lakers fans need to catch up to me. No, better stated, they need to jump off the “next gen” bandwagon and look with sober eyes at players that might mature. They have been affirming a future that his little discipline. 

And affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.

Keep big money in politics

If you want to make the world a better place, and I believe many of you do, you have better things to do with your money than politics.

I learned that the hard way. I’d tell you about it, but I’d only feel embarrassed and I’d like to keep my self-esteem intact, thank you.

Right now, I have some friends who are down in the dumps that #TheResistance hasn’t produced results commensurate with their hatred for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. To be real, it hasn’t produced any positive results at all, but I don’t want to gloat. Why should I? Georgia’s 6th District has been blood-dripping red for four decades. Jon Ossoff was going to change that? Please.

Gloat? No way. I want my friends to feel good.

Stop donating to Democrats, as I have stopped donating to Republicans.

Let the wealthy bastards cut the checks. Hell, don’t have campaign finance reform. Let them spend money on losing causes or horrible side deals. The question is not whether politicians are corrupt. The question tends to be how corrupt. It’s not going to change. Citizens United wouldn’t change that. Neither would McCain-Feingold.

But James, you’re telling me not to give so Republicans can win. I can see through you, Trump lover.

No, I’m just saying if you want to make an impact, invest it properly. I didn’t give money to the GOP. I gave it to a food bank. I didn’t buy a red “MAGA” cap. I gave my change to The Salvation Army, bought Girl Scout cookies, dropped money to an animal rescue shelter.

I’m not saying this to claim I’m a better person than you. I’m an asshole. I admit it.

I’m saying it because I know you want to make somebody’s day a little better. I believe that in the marrow of my bones, despite how you vote. Most of us cast votes not just for our own self-interest. We hope — or have blind faith — that our candidates will not only serve us but change the nation and the planet.

That candidate is not going to miss your 20 bucks, no matter how many mass emails you get.

The vibe I get after dropping off a couple of bags of nonperishables at a food bank is far more pleasurable than any I get watching election night results come in. You know what it’s like, especially if you cut a candidate a check. There you are, watching the news like a gambling junkie watches a roulette table: “Come on, red! Hit red! Hit red! Hit reeeeddddd…? … Dammit.”

Sure, argue your political beliefs. Vote on Election Day. But when it comes to your money, make sure your debit card is still in your back pocket and get the hell off of that candidate’s website. Let George Soros, the Koch Brothers, “Big Banking” or “Big Hollywood” handle that.

The Lakers: Two easy choices, after that…

Magic Johnson is aware that his reputation as a franchise savior — regardless of whether it’s deserved or fair — depends on the Lakers qualifying for the playoffs next year. 

True, under his stewardship the Dodgers are compelling viewing — if anyone in Los Angeles has Spectrum SportsNet to view them in the first place. But even the prior ownership group knew the Dodgers owned a stocked minor-league system. The franchise was set to consistently win regardless of who cut the checks.

On the other hand, the Lakers have a random collection of lottery-pick level players and no specific sense of direction. In the NBA, that is a recipe for long-term irrelevance. Trust me, I now live in Orlando. The Magic are the definition of a team with a bevy of lottery players and no idea how to make them a winning team.

Simply put, Lakers fans think far too highly of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Maybe Brandon Ingram is worth the hype, but putting the weight of this marquee franchise on those skinny shoulders might be a bit much to bear.

Moreover, coach Luke Walton did not answer the fundamental question — what direction is this team going? In other words, whose team is it? What does the method by which this team will learn to win. What type of team is it?

You watch the Golden State Warriors and you know how they approach the game. Same for the San Antonio Spurs. Heck, even the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards have more of a defined approach to the game.

For the Lakers, this is their biggest problem heading into the upcoming season. If Walton can’t give ownership and players a vision, or if Johnson has a vision that Walton cannot produce, then I’m going to be the first to assert that everybody’s beloved former sixth man will have to go. I like him as a guy, but dem’s the breaks, dude.

How do the Lakers get from 26 wins to 40-plus wins? (Portland qualified for the playoffs with 41 wins this season.) I don’t have all the answers, but after careful consideration I know of only two easy decisions for the Lakers:

1) Russell has to go if they draft Lonzo Ball. The idea that Russell can function as a shooting guard seems pie-in-the-sky. He never played off the ball before. Moreover, Russell was given a poor role model when he broke into the league. What the hell was Jim Buss thinking by having a space case like Nick Young mentor Russell?

Russell developed bad habits. I don’t think of him as a bust, but drafting Ball gives the Lakers two of the same player. Moreover, drafting Ball sends a clear signal. The Lakers would indeed be his team. A big part of me thinks that’s why so many stories linking the Lakers and Ball exist. Taking Ball automatically removes the decision from Walton.

2) Pursue no top free agents other than power forward. Like the draft, this class is loaded with small forwards and point guards. The best option at power forward is likely Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, because I can’t see Blake Griffin leaving the Clippers. Free agent centers start with other team’s reserves. No thanks.

Signing Millsap, which I don’t particularly envision, likely sends Randle to the bench.

Everything else is up in the air. Everything. Because the Lakers have a glut of otherwise undistinguished lottery players. They’ve been inconsistent at best. The question for each player becomes: Is that from growing pains or are they just simply unreliable?

Trades for Paul George? Sure, I’ve read the rumors. Doing so would create a forward glut unless you send Ingram and/or Randle and/or Russell to Indiana. And George doesn’t fare well at power forward. So does that make Ingram the target to go? And by me saying that, is your immediate reaction But wait! Ingram’s got real potential here!

As you can see, that discussion alone leads to a headache.

So yeah, two answers are simple. Trade Russell if they take Ball. Save free agent money for the better group of players available next year.

But add at least 15 wins next season.

This is the job, Magic. I don’t have to tell you that.

One arrogant PS opinion: Being realistic here, the best starting five the Lakers can accomplish next year is Ball at the point, Dion Waiters as a shooting guard free agent signing if not one gained from a Russell trade, Ingram, George, Ivica Zubac. I can see that team push for 40 wins next year.

The Lakers are winning and I’m overjoyed

Let’s take a moment to make sure I understand the point of the Lakers losing at this time of year.

It’s to make sure they keep a draft pick in the top three. If they fall out of the top three, the pick goes to Philadelphia — as if the Sixers could do any better with it.

Keeping that top three pick by continuing to lose means, according to most mock drafts, the Lakers will get to choose an elite point guard in UCLA’s Lonzo Ball or a small forward in Josh Jackson of Kansas.

Didn’t the Lakers already draft to fill those needs? Didn’t the guard they drafted hit a three-point field goal as time expired to lift LA to a victory over Minnesota on Sunday? Wasn’t small forward addressed in the last draft with Brandon Ingram? Or Julius Randle three years prior?

Keeping a top three pick is no panacea for the Lakers. What fans haven’t noticed is this so-called disastrous four-game winning streak indicates the team — indeed, the franchise — is trying to cure itself. You should applaud that.

The Lakers are perilously close to becoming what the Sixers have been for far too long — a storied franchise obsessed with “the process” of getting better instead of simply getting better. The Sixers stocked up on picks for years and are still nose deep in the swamp.

Instead, Jeanie Buss — bless our little purple-and-gold nudist — willingly asserted herself in a family dispute when it became apparent the franchise with 16 NBA titles was nowhere near catching the Celtics. The franchise has clearly been scrubbing off the stench of ineptitude left by her brother, Jim. Remember, the only reason the Lakers are forced to tank to keep a draft pick was because of his foolhardy trade that brought a broken-down Steve Nash in the first place.

Under Jim Buss, the Lakers reputation had been so sullied they couldn’t even get a meeting with Kevin Durant when he was a free agent last year.

Not that I’m convinced everything new grand poobah Magic Johnson will find a miracle cure (please insert your own HIV joke here). Put it this way: The Sixers motto for years was “trust the process.” It seems that Magic’s motto to this roster is “trust in yourselves.”

What would happen should the Lakers keep the pick? You really want them to take Ball with his megalomaniac/racial provocateur father? How does that play in the locker room of a young team still finding an identity? How long before there’s infighting between Ball and D’Angelo Russell? How long before that idiot father of his claims Luke Walton can’t coach because he’s white?

If the Lakers keep the pick, great. If not, they either have a foundation with the three lottery picks they’ve already utilized or the Lakers need to look to free agency and trades.

Each win thus far suggests there might be hope with Russell, Randle and Ingram. Putting wins together makes a streak that is more than a sign of hope.

Winning streaks are a sign of what made the Lakers the franchise that it was.

Rapid reactions from the Lakers front office upheaval

About an hour ago, the Lakers announced that general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive Vice President Jim Buss were both relieved of their duties. They were replaced, at least in the interim, by franchise legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. I could repeat gripes that I’ve had about the team under Buss’ stewardship. Instead, I’d like to focus on what this means for one of the most recognizable brand names in sports.

All of what follows is filtered through the following prism: The good news for Lakers fans is not that Johnson is in, but that Buss is out. Why?

1) Magic would likely make a horrible GM, so the future of the franchise rests on his pick to run player personnel decisions.

It is an educated guess that Johnson would not be ideal to build a Lakers roster for two reasons. One, often in the NBA, successful coaches have significant say in building good rosters. Johnson served rather poorly as an interim coach.

Two, the greatest players in the game are often lacking in scouting talent. For every Larry Bird success story in Indiana, there is Michael Jordan’s mismanagement of the Charlotte Bobcats, and pretty much everything Isaiah Thomas has run in retirement.

Magic has a hit-and-miss record in his post-playing career. His hits have been incredible, such as owning the Dodgers. How terrifying are his mistakes? Aw, man. You really wanna know?

2) Please, Magic, do not make your first phone call to Kobe Bryant, which was suggested in news reports. See above. Because Bryant has been known to miss the mark badly, too. How terrifying? Aw, man. You really wanna know?

3) It does not matter that this move came two days before the NBA trading deadline. The NBA trading deadline features very few blockbusters. Baseball’s deadline does. Besides, unless the Lakers want to break up their alleged “future talent,” they have scant pieces to trade away. Reserve guard Lou Williams is pretty much it.

So what could Magic Johnson do to restore the Lakers?

1) Remind the players and management of their identity. No, I don’t mean wave a purple and gold flag around like a male cheerleader. The Lakers had a formula that worked for decades, only it was abandoned because Jim Buss made a series of impulsive, foolhardy decisions. First, they were going to be a defensive power under coach Mike Brown. Then they were going to return to the 1980s Showtime era with Mike D’Antoni. Now, they want to be a version of the Golden State Warriors and none of it worked because they simply can’t shoot.

This is a team without an identity. Fortunately, it had one for decades — the inside/out game. In the 1960s, inside to Wilt Chamberlain, out to Jerry West. In the 1980s, inside to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, out to Johnson. In the 2000s, in to Shaquille O’Neal, out to Bryant.

Maybe the team has the “out” in D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers need to do whatever it takes to find the inside game.

2) If that means trading Julius Randle or Brandon Ingram, so be it.

3) Support coach Luke Walton publicly, but privately inform him that this roster needs to follow a specific growth plan. For far too often this season, Walton has believed that in order for the Lakers to grow somebody in the younger core needs to step up. Be the leader. Demand the ball. That sort of thing.

At this point, Russell, Randle or Ingram have not answered that call.

That leaves it up to you, coach. You have to pick. Pick wisely. Pick now.

The week in L.A. sports (8/12/16-8/18/16)

I didn’t post about SoCal sports last week because I was too busy ripping the flesh from my ankles in New York. I averaged 10 miles per day in dress shoes, despite the subway system. I don’t know how women do it in heels. I really don’t.

On the plus side, I learned that my blog needs focus to grow an audience. What type of focus? No idea. So there’s that.

What happened with our favorite teams over the last week? Glad you asked:

Dodgers: The boys in blue took over first place in the last couple of days, which is nice but — and I have daily arguments with people about this — the point is not to win the division. The point is to win the World Series. And this team is unlikely to do that.

Consider these excellent points brought up by the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers pitching staff.

As a side note, you’ve likely never heard of Joe Davis because Los Angeles doesn’t get to watch Dodgers games on TimeWarner SportsNet, but he’s apparently the heir apparent to Vin Scully — on a year-to-year basis. Davis is a 28-year-old self-described “broadcasting nerd.” Seems nice enough. He currently works with a partner on Dodgers road games, last night with Orel Hershiser.

Davis doesn’t live in Southern California, though, which makes me wonder: If he’s such a broadcasting nerd, wouldn’t you want to hang with Scully for a while?

Rams: More than 90,000 people went to the LA Coliseum to watch an exhibition football game. That’s how stupid the NFL was for not bringing a team here earlier. Angelinos missed football so much that 90,000 of them were willing to leave the Coliseum after the game into that funnel of broken dreams known as the USC parking lot.

Damn, last time I was there for a crowd that big, it was for a Rolling Stones concert. It took more time to leave the parking structure than Mick and the boys spent on stage.

The Rams won with fourth stringers in the fourth quarter, which isn’t good.

An inspired thought from CBSSports.com: Coach Jeff Fisher isn’t as good at assembling a team as you think.

Galaxy: The team has struggled to score recently as its lineup has been missing Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes. LA escaped Colorado with a 1-1 result. Keane returns to action when the team travels across the country to take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

Lakers: Nick Young appears to be done with the team, not by his choice. The guy, who in his defense was the victim of the D’Angelo Russell videoclip prank in the spring, has actually attempted to mend fences with the teammate who stabbed him in the back. It doesn’t matter. Russell was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, and he’s Nick Young. The Lakers can’t find a trade partner. The talk now is that Young will simply be cut.

Meanwhile, the Lakers also signed Yi Jianlian from China. He was a draft bust from 2007. The No. 6 overall pick played 272 games over five seasons, first with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Clippers: Paul Pierce said he will return for a 19th NBA season, according to the Orange County Register.

Kings: People love lists, so the NHL Network created a time killer, “Top 20 Defensemen in the Game Now.” Drew Doughty is No. 1. Not a bad choice. 

The week in L.A. sports (7/29/16-8/4/16)

I would have had this earlier, but I was called in to work. So be it. I like talking sports. I love getting paid. There’s a clear difference…

Dodgers: Very little respect to the front office for finally getting a trade done before the non-waiver deadline on Monday. The primary swap was three minor leaguers for the top two players the Oakland A’s had to offer. Before we break down the trade, know that the Dodgers haven’t won a game since making the deal.

As for the trade, well … They brought in yet another injured starting pitcher (Rich Hill), because with Andrew Friedman’s way of thinking you can never have enough people under contract who are physically unable to compete. They also acquired a jolly good outfielder named Josh Reddick, in the process acknowledging that the deal is like the chemotherapy to rid themselves of their Puignoma.

Bottom line: yes, the rotation is in tatters, but it wouldn’t be in such a mess if Friedman hadn’t acquired so many injury-prone players in the first place.

Lakers: Earlier today, the team’s pursuit of guard Russell Westbrook for next offseason ended. Yeah, Westbrook figured why wait 11 months to give Jim Buss the finger when he could do so today. Westbrook re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. A bench jockey for OKC took to Twitter to laugh at the Lakers, to which I would reply “You realize you’re no longer a title contender either, right? … Do you really want Kevin Durant to tweet what he thinks about you?”

Larry Nance Jr. apparently injured something and I don’t care much.

Clippers: The Los Angeles Times reports Paul Pierce spent $2.23 million on a residence in the area, which means he’s renting a closet in the back of a Whole Foods Market. Wakka wakka!

Galaxy: In securing a 1-1 result in Seattle on Sunday, the Galaxy pulled a remarkable little feat by not losing road games throughout Cascadia — Seattle (win and a draw), Portland (win) and Vancouver (win). For the uninitiated, it doesn’t sound like much. Portland is the defending league champs and the other two did reach the playoffs last year. Teams tend to mail their effort in when they travel in MLS. The Galaxy didn’t. Credit where it’s due.

Rams: I’m still genuinely thrilled that the Rams returned home. I honestly am. And then I recall they’re playing their first few seasons hereSigh.

Here’s an item to slide into your “no sh-t” file: ESPN wrote that in “position battles to watch for all 32 NFL teams,” it’s quarterback Case Keenum vs. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m in such a foul mood, I get that way every time I see some asshat with “lipstick” tattooed on his neck. Sure, playa.

Kings: They sold one of their minor-league teams to a group of trust fund babies in Boston and the sooner I finish typing that, the better.

The week in L.A. sports (7/22/16-7/28/16)

The problem with these last two weeks is it has been all politics, all the time. It’s truly difficult to find other things to talk about.

Thank you, Major League Baseball.

So here goes. Let’s take a look at the Southland…

Dodgers: While the team has, in fact, climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the National League West lead after being down by at least seven, I don’t see much reason for optimism yet. First, this rally has been more to do with Giants ineptitude rather than Dodgers competence. San Francisco’s record since the end of the All-Star break has been 2-9, worst in the majors. Do you think San Francisco is going to remain the worst team in baseball for the rest of the year? I don’t.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers still have major problems in their rotation — with no timetable for Clayton Kershaw’s return — and their lineup — the outfield stinks.  The nonwaiver trade deadline is Monday afternoon. LA has been linked to at least three front-line starting pitchers (including a starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, Chris Sale), a handful of power hitters and today, a top-notch closer. The latter rumor is curious. There’s nothing wrong with Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers are going to have to prove me wrong. I don’t accept any of it until it happens. The alleged smartest front office in baseball was in a similar situation last year and did nothing. It also struck out on free agency and trades last offseason. As previously reported, this franchise has six current and former general managers on the payroll and it strikes me that they are micromanaging the team into the ground.

Clippers: Yesterday, news broke the franchise was considering sites on the west side of town for its own arena. … Dude, maybe all this political crap has me too pessimistic but I just don’t see it happening. I think this is posturing for a better deal with Staples Center.

Here’s why: True, the Clippers would generate more income by concessions and parking in their own arena. True, it could possibly revitalize an area the same way L.A. Live sprung up around Staples Center. Triple true, they could recoup some of the money by selling off naming rights to the arena. Quadruple true, the Clippers would control their own scheduling as opposed to being a third wheel behind the Lakers and Kings.

But arenas in a metropolis can cost close to $1 billion now, such as Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Heck, even Amway Center in Orlando cost more than $400 million. You’re telling me that’s going to be paid off in hot dogs and parking vouchers?

Lakers: Let’s just ignore “trade rumors” for a few months, shall we? I mention this because the blogosphere is losing its grip again over Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

What we can talk about is that ESPN projects the Lakers to be the worst team in the NBA Western Conference again. Oh, better than the 17 wins from last year, it claims, but still an awful 25. Sigh… I actually think they’ll pass 30, but that still means they’d stink.

Rams: They did the right thing last night by clipping last year’s starting quarterback Nick Foles from the roster. I can’t imagine the guy being a mentor to top draft pick Jared Goff. Having said that, the team released its preseason depth chart. If the season started today, your starting quarterback is Case Keenum and the best thing I can say about him is he doesn’t suck.

Ever notice how the Dallas Cowboys get linked to every “name” that becomes a free agent? Not that Foles is a big name, but if I were the Cowboys I’d take a flier on the guy. Dallas can’t afford another lost season if Tony Romo gets hurt. And Foles cut his teeth in the NFC East.

Galaxy: Last week, the lads dropped two thunderbolts in the first 12 minutes of the game and held on to knock off the defending champion Timbers 2-1 in Portland. The team is starting to look like one focused on winning a sixth title, playing like it deserved the hype when it acquired Giovani Dos Santos and Steven Gerrard last year. And they play defense, to boot, which was sorely lacking last year.

Kings: Hey, you can’t expect a hockey team to make news in July. Still, if you’re an Angelino, I dare you to look at this and not smile a little.

The state of the Lakers after day 1 of NBA free agency

Every so often, I’ll get asked from random sports fans about the Lakers. Even though I no longer cover them. Even though I no longer live in California. The Lakers are a franchise much like the Dallas Cowboys. Up or down, they spur interest.

So I’m pretty confident after one day of free agency to tell you how the team will do next year.

They’re going to stink. Just not nearly as bad as they have the last two years. Better said, they will stink in a fun way, like when you’re 8 years old and your friend let one rip and you both think it’s the funniest thing ever.

If everything breaks right, maybe they are above .500 and get into the playoffs. That is doubtful, though, considering the youth of this team and the very uninspiring signing of Timofey Mosgov as the new starting center. I had thought it would be a somewhat simple task to upgrade at center over last year’s starter Roy Hibbert. Mosgov was the third center on Cleveland’s depth chart, and before that was best known for this.

In other words, the Lakers front office did the impossible in a thick free agent class. This is a downgrade in a critical position. I’ll wait for another post to outline why you should blame Jim Buss.

The other four starting positions, while reasons for optimism, are far too young. You expect four people — two of whom cannot legally consume alcohol — to meld into a cohesive unit in one summer?

Add to that, incoming coach Luke Walton has no prior NBA head coaching experience. Well, scratch that. He served as an interim coach for the Golden State Warriors, who already did function as a cohesive unit because they were experienced and had the current best player in the game.

Despite the hyperbole from the national press, you have no idea if the Lakers will play the Warriors brand of free-flowing distance-shooting offense. Walton coached the Warriors as an assistant, true. But he also played under Phil Jackson. It’s just as likely the Lakers could revert to the triangle offense — which isn’t reliant on three-pointers.

There are players to like on the team. Julius Randle is a double-double machine in the Kevin Love mold. I didn’t want the Lakers to take guard D’Angelo Russell. (I would have preferred a center. Jahil Okafor had a productive rookie season in Philly. It would have been easier to find a guard than a center this offseason. Okafor is already better than Mosgov.) Still, I don’t think Russell is a bad player.

People have good reason to believe small forward Brandon Ingram is can’t miss. So there is the potential for good times ahead.

Conversely, you have a coach who was charged with the task of rebuilding the league’s glamour franchise over the course of one summer. Four starters are age 24 or younger — yes, three of them lottery picks. And a center who is on a lot of posters for the wrong reasons. What’s the verdict?

I think they can double their win total from last year.

But that’s 34 wins, which is below .500 and out of the playoffs.

Better break out the whoopie cushions and remember to blame the guy next to you when the farting noises come from Staples Center.