That means play the kids, build for the future or, in other words, tank — at last! — as rookie Jordan Clarkson gets a look as the starting point and Ryan Kelly as a stretch four.Now if they can only finish low enough to draw a top-five pick so they don’t have to give it to Phoenix.Of course, that would mean giving their 2016 No. 1 to the Suns, wherever it is.Nostalgia being preferable to the present these days, everyone did the obligatory retrospective last week on Pau Gasol, returning as a Chicago Bull … having taken less than the Lakers offered to leave.Lots of insiders still blame Mike D’Antoni for running Pau off, but I’d look higher up the team directory. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error D’Antoni was hired (by Jerry Buss, the way I heard it from the inside) to bring back Showtime, with all aboard OK with it (except, of course, Jeanie Buss).As close as Bryant was to Phil Jackson, he enthusiastically endorsed D’Antoni (“an offensive genius.”)Unfortunately, D’Antoni was a genius who spread the floor, as opposed to pounding the ball inside.When it did go inside, it had to go to Dwight Howard, their upcoming free agent.Oops!In Jackson’s triangle, they could have played a high-low post with Gasol at the free-throw line.Under D’Antoni, Pau had to go to the corner, where he was lost, straining their relationship.Last season was worse spiritually, if not in fact, with the team going 27-55, an overachievement with Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, et al. as D’Antoni drove them to the end, trying to save his job.Lakers Don’t Tank, so they didn’t. (Not that I can claim to have been in favor; I was thinking the way management was, or in other words, fuzzily).With Howard gone, Gasol should have been ideal for D’Antoni, but their relationship only got worse, undermined by the wailing and gnashing of teeth around them.Any grief not directed at D’Antoni went to Gasol, averaging 17-10 in the 60 games he played. (To date, he has played in 45 of the Bulls’ 48).Pau then shocked the Lakers (and Bryant, his foremost admirer), turning down $23 million for one season for $22.5 million over three in Chicago.“When things were going well here, it was exceptional,” said Gasol last week.“They say L.A. and New York are two of the top cities, the best cities to win at, but they’re probably two of the tougher cities to lose and struggle, because you get so much coverage that media have to create stories and sometimes the bad or negative stories are more attractive.“So I felt like there was always a search for something bad or negative to talk about, some drama that was created whether there was some truth to it or not.“Chicago so far has been great. Very positive. Even when we had that skid where we lost six out of eight, people were still positive, media were still positive. …“We’re all — especially within the same city — we’re a family.”Unfortunately, the Laker family wasn’t very happy. It’s more miserable now as hope continues to fade into an ever more distant future.Bryant’s fall is only the latest calamity to befall the Lakers, in an unbroken string of them.Whatever factor in recruiting Kobe might have been, it’s less now.And heaven help the Lakers if they commit major money to a problematic, big-name stop-gap like Rajon Rondo at the behest of Kobe, desperate to enlist more help than he got this season.If good times come and go, the Lakers were ahead of the game from the day Jerry Buss bought them in 1979, building Showtime around Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, needing just five years between superstars to get Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, and three after Shaq left to get Pau.Unfortunately for the Lakers, nothing is forever, including them.It almost couldn’t have been different with everyone they placed their trust in, or hoped to, going down.Bryant hasn’t finished his last three seasons.Dwight Howard is declining physically in his 11th season, to say nothing of the problem between his ears. He has just been sidelined again in Houston with sore knees.Carmelo Anthony is declining physically in his 12th season. The Knicks are expected to shut him down after he limps gallantly out for the All-Star Game.The exception, of course, is Chris Paul, whom the Lakers acquired fair and square, only to see David Stern nix the trade in his role as temporary operator of the New Orleans franchise, a classic conflict of interest.On the other hand, the Lakers don’t have stars like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan or front-line role players like Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. With them, CP3 still has his work cut out with the Clippers.Some decades, it goes like this. Welcome to the longest one the Lakers have known in many, or most, of their fans’ lifetimes. The splash finally heard ‘round Lakerdom …So much for all the Laker story lines, which revolved around Kobe Bryant.Here’s this season’s last one: If the Lakers thought things couldn’t get any worse, Kobe’s departure proved they were wrong.If there’s a silver lining, Kobe’s departure left the organization with no choice but to concede the obvious after years of hoping against hope.