The Los Angeles Lakers fell short of expectations once again, and now the Lakers' managment has all summer to think about how to reclaim their spot at the top of the NBA. What changes should be made to return this team to greatness?
It almost feels strange to be at this point in the NBA
playoffs knowing that the Lakers have already been sent home. While making in
this deep into the post season would please most owners, the Lakers
orgizination is one loaded with champions and one that expects perfection.
Does this early exit spell the end of a dynasty, and what
sort of action can the Lakers take in the offseason to help them reclaim their
spot at the top of the league?
Without a doubt, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players
to every wear a Lakers jersey, and his five championship rings proves that
Bryant is not just a great leader, but a true winner. His former teammate and
nemesis Shaquille O'Neal has already declared that Kobe will go down as the
greatest Laker of all time, and while Earvin "Magic" Johnson might
have something to say about that, Bryant is the closest thing to Michael Jordan
that the NBA has seen.
If you hear people talk and look at some of the chatter
going on in SBR’s NBA forum, many like to call Kobe ball hog. Bryant will be
the first to admit that he loves to have the ball, and given the current
starting lineup in LA, who else would you rather have running the show? When a
superstar has few options, he has to take matters into his own hands, and Kobe’s
confidence makes him the perfect candidate to take that clutch buzzer beater
when the game is on the line.
In 13 games that Kobe Bryant has scored 40 or more points in
the post season, the Lakers are 10-3. This only goes to prove that when the
ball is in Bryant's hands, the Lakers are more likely to win. Although this is
true, at almost 34 years of age, Bryant has lost a step and need's a supporting
cast that he can rely on.
Pau bashing and tongue lashing
When Pau Gasol came to LA and helped the Lakers win 2 titles
in 3 years, I didn't hear anyone bashing the big man. With Gasol getting older,
Andrew Bynum is starting to become more of a key role player for the Lakers
offense, and it looks as if Gasol is not adjusting properly.
One can almost see the look of disgust and frustration on
his face. Maybe it has something to do with the trade that didn't go through in
the offseason, where Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were offered as trade bait. We
all saw what happened to Odom, and while Gasol acts as if he had turned the
other cheek, us fans and bettors don't know what's going on in his mind.
Nevertheless, Kobe Bryant was the person who said that the
Lakers would have never have won those two championships without Pau on the
squad. The Lakers need to find out where Gasol's head is at and if he wants to
remain a Laker while he still has trade value.
The next David Lee?
Andrew Bynum is quickly turning into the next David Lee, as people
are still questioning his star status despite the monstrous numbers he
continues to post. I think that Bynum is a very good player but will never be a
Dwight Howard, because despite all of his abilities, he still lacks the aggressiveness
that one finds in a great center.
Dwight Howard to LA?
I don't agree with Dwight Howard's behavior, but this is the
type of player that could compliment Kobe Bryant and take some of the pressure
off of the aging star. Don't rule out this move, because Howard would love to
be a Laker, but given the fact that the Van Gundy recently lost his job
coaching Orlando, Howard might have new incentive to stay in Florida.
Ramon Sessions isn't the solution to the problem, as he’s a
bench player at best. While he was a decent pickup for Los Angeles, the fact
that they thought they could beat Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder with
Sessions as a starter proved to be a costly one.
When it comes to the Lakers bench, Dr. Buss need to clean
house. Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts are pure garbage that take up a roster
spot and salary. Other players like Steve Blake and Matt Barnes have a role on
this team, but both could be upgraded.
Metta World Peace
While Metta is ultimately a joke to everyone but himself, it
is almost unfortunate that this guy has talent. He has that edge and can shoot
while being a physical force, but as the past has proven, Artest can and will cross
the line. In order to win, you need to conduct yourself like a winner, and World
peace has failed to demonstrate that he can do so.
While World Peace still holds value as a starter, it could
be in the Lakers best interest to rid themselves of this negative presence from
their roster. It is almost funny to think that Metta refused to shake hands
with James Harden, claiming that he only shakes hands with starters. Well, as
Harden and the Thunder advance to the Western Finals, it looks as if World
Peace has not only lost the opportunity to show at least some form of class and
compassion, but that he will also have to eat his own words as Harden’s play
was instrumental in pushing the Thunder over the Lakers.
Where do the Lakers go from here?
Both Bryant and Bynum will be wearing the yellow and purple
next season, but as for everyone else, it’s anybody’s guess. I'm not saying
that this team is full of holes, but as the Miami Heat are proving us right
now, two stars can only do so much. Los Angeles will once again be placed near
the back of the picking order in the draft, so this team will be well advised
to look at the free agency market for value.
Attempting to fix problems with players like Ramon Sessions
is fine as a short term solution, but Los Angeles need's to find the right fit
and possibly get younger in age at the key positions if they hope to bring home
another ring in the near future.
This is still a winning team, but moves need to be made
quickly as Kobe Bryant is at the tail end of his prime.
What will the Lakers do? Will
they wait for Howard? This should be an interesting offseason in the meanwhile,
as the Buss family will be looking for answers.