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Around the NBA: What Should The Lakers Do Now?

 

The joy and satisfaction that Celtics fans felt after watching the Lakers get swept was short lived, thanks to the Heat taking a 3-1 series lead.  But the question still haunts the ’09 and ’10 champs, what do the Lakers do now?  (Unfortunately a similar story might be written about the C’s sooner, rather than later as well.)  However if the Celtics go down in the Conference Semifinals, you can guarantee they do it with far more class than the Lakers.  In fact the Celts have already had amble opportunities for cheap shots, following the ones they received, but decided to instead keep their heads and play basketball.

The Lakers, specifically Andrew Bynum, were just embarrassing.  In what could be Phil Jackson’s last game, not only is his team swept (the 1st time EVER for Phil) but they lose by 36.  Two of his best four players get thrown out.

The Lamar Odom play wasn’t that bad to me.  He was clearly frustrated, he took it out on the other team’s best player, and after the game said he was embarrassed by it.  Ok.  Bynum, on the other hand, drilled the smallest guy on the other team when he was already in the air.  He threw a forearm into him, removed his jersey to reveal how not ready for the beach he really is, and then sounded even dumber in the post game.

Bynum has been quite active this post season.  He stayed healthy (shocker) and proved to be a legitimate Top 5, maybe higher, center in the league (shocker to me).  He also called out his team for not trusting each other (looking at you Kobe) and then cheap shots J.J. Barea and disgraces himself as the final image of Phil Jackson’s coaching career.  Nice work Andrew, what a player. 

When trying to understand what the Lakers might look like next year and the seasons ahead it has to start with the head coach.  Quick side note on Phil Jackson.  You’ve probably seen all the stats about him already, but they are worth mentioning again.  It could be the end for one of the best ever.  Doc Rivers was asked about Phil prior to Game 4 and said he could be the greatest coach in sports, not just basketball, he also believes Phil could be back down the road as well…

  • 20 Seasons, 20 Playoff Appearances
  • W-L = 1,155-485; .704
  • 229-104 playoff record
  • 11 NBA Championships
  • 13 Conference Championships
  • Never had a losing record
  • 9 seasons with Bulls
  • 11 seasons with Lakers
  • Coached: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Rice, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom.

Phil also coached Brian Shaw from 2000-2003 (the Lakers 3-peat) and since 2004 has had the back up guard as an assistant coach with LA.  Does the Lakers front office feel comfortable giving the head coaching job to a guy who has never been an NBA head coach?  If they want to keep the triangle offense, then Shaw could be the guy.  But if they decide to shake up the roster then keeping the same offensive system would no longer be a priority.

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to the Lakers roster going forward, and they are led by a pair of Hall of Famers.  ESPN analyst and the greatest Laker ever, Magic Johnson, feels like LA should blow the whole thing up and start over.  (Perhaps hoping Kobe doesn’t surpass his 5 titles…) And TNT’s Charles Barkley believes the Lakers have 4 great players, they just need to get more athletic, and bring in more speed.

Here is what the current roster situation looks like for Los Angeles.

Under Contract:

  • Kobe Bryant, 3 years $83.5 million
  • Pau Gasol, 3 years $56.9 million
  • Andrew Bynum, 2 years $31.5 million (second year is team option)
  • Lamar Odom, 2 years $17.1 million (second year is team option)
  • Ron Artest, 3 years $21.7 million (third year is player option)
  • Luke Walton, 2 years $11.7 million
  • Steve Blake, 3 years $12 million
  • Derek Fisher, 2 years $6.8 million (second year is player option)
  • Devin Ebanks, 1 year $736K

Player Options for ’11-‘12

  • Shannon Brown – $2.4 million
  • Matt Barnes – $1.9 million

Free Agents

  • Theo Ratliff
  • Joe Smith
  • Trey Johnson

All of their key guys are locked up for the next couple of years.  Next season they owe $68 million to Kobe-Pau-Bynum-Odom alone.  They clearly won’t have a lot of flexibility, and they are getting old.  Next year Kobe will be 33, Pau – 31, Odom – 32, Artest – 32, Fisher – 37.  Their two most athletic players (Brown and Barnes) both have player options for next season.  What should they do?

I think “blowing it up” is a lot easier said then done.  Are teams around the league going to be knocking down the Lakers door trying to trade for Gasol, Artest, or Fisher with those contracts?  And we don’t even know what the next CBA will look like.

There is so much talk already about Dwight Howard going to LA.  I think there is a possibility he ends up there, but it won’t be from just a Lakers-Magic deal.  Keep in mind Orlando still has to pay a ridiculous sum to Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu; they won’t be interested in bringing back some more huge contracts for Howard.  He’ll have to pull a Carmelo and force the Magic to say, “Well we better get something instead of watching him walk this summer.”

The league is getting younger, faster, and more athletic.  Hello Oklahoma City!  But the Lakers actually lost to a fellow veteran team, one they had never faced before in the playoffs.  I understand the Lakers are getting or are already old.  No one thought the Celtics would make the NBA Finals last season, and they did.  IF the Lakers bring back this team next year they have 2 All-Stars (Bryant and Gasol) the 6th man of the year (Odom) and a potential All-Star/ Top 5 center (Bynum).  The problem with that, as Bill Simmons has pointed out time and again; they can’t play their 4 best players at the same time.

Not only that, but I wonder if Bynum wants to play with those guys, and if those guys want to play with Bynum.  He’s their best trade piece (23 years old, signed for next year and a club option in ’12-’13.)  He stayed healthy and averaged 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in the playoffs this year.

The Lakers clearly need to get more athletic; however I don’t think blowing it up is the best way.  Sure that might help them 5 years from now, but Kobe Bryant still has something to play for (a 6th title to tie Jordan and a 7th to pass him) and although he is no longer in the debate for best player in the NBA, he’s better than 99% of the league.  Hopefully for their sake, Pau Gasol will have whatever he was dealing with off the court over and done with by next season and Lamar Odom duplicates his solid year.

If I’m the Lakers, I probably hire Brian Shaw and keep the triangle in tact.  Forget about Rick Adelman (who would be my pick if they want to forget the triangle) and certainly pass on Mike Brown.  Keep Shaw, along with Kobe, Pau, Lamar and convince Shannon Brown to pick up his player option.  This is where it gets, once again easier said than done, but I would shop Andrew Bynum around big time.  Maybe work a 3-way deal and get Rudy Gay or Chris Paul, maybe even Dwight Howard, but I would be more inclined to get an athletic or highly skilled point guard or small forward.

LA is clearly at a crossroads right now, and frankly I’m glad it’s not my problem.  Does the Lakers turmoil make me feel better considering the Celtics are down 3-1?  Yes, yes it does.

  • Batman

    I honestly think when healthy Bynum is arguably the second best center in the league. The only one who might be better for second place is Bogut. Dwight is first of course but Bynum is an amazing talent. Too bad he has a history of being dirty and injury prone

    • dslack

      Absolutely. I think Bynum is better than Bogut. "legitimate top 5"? Yes, but who else besides Dwight would you put ahead of him? The best centers in the league are probably Dwight, Bynum, healthy Bogut, Horford, Gasol, unless you count Amare as a center, in which case I guess he's top 3 (though the lack of defense hurts).

      • Batman

        Hmm maybe if Horford develops more he could replace bogut. I really like this kid, we should somehow try to get him. hes a great player

      • Morpheus

        Amare IS NOT a CENTER. Pringles only plays him in small ball lineups. If you want the best of Amare you want him playing PF, only play him at C when you go small ball.

        • dslack

          Amare was a center in Phoenix's best lineups, and he was a center in NYK's best lineups. So, it doesn't make much sense to insist he's not a center. Yes, he sometimes plays PF, but he's often a center, too.

          • Morpheus

            In that situation when you have the best shooting team in the league with a young Marion and an MVP PG….yeah i guess you can get away with it.

  • Mike

    I agree with batman on Bogut. His injury really screwed up his play this year though, but he is a great center no doubt. Si is bynum.
    Instead of talking about the lakers, I'll say the Celtics need to take a look at j.r. smith in the offseason, sure he's a little crazy but a great scorer of the bench kinda like Harden; Second they clearly need a guy like Marquis or TA or Posey focused only on defense and that can shot 3s; and third the Celtics need to bring in Oden as a FA, sure he might look like he's made of glass, but if he's over those injuries he is a great young center for the future.

  • dan

    "Maybe work a 3-way deal and get Rudy Gay or Chris Paul

    Seriously? The Hornets would have to be insane to trade Chris Paul for Bynum and the Lakers would have to be insane to offer Bynum for Gay.

    If the Magic are going to trade Howard, the Lakers would be wise to offer Bynum and to take one of those albatross contracts off their hands (Gil Arenas, Turkoglu)

  • I_Bleed_Green

    Rondo for Harden straight up will do it for me

    • Batman

      Have fun with that

  • Morpheus

    LOL Hornets aren't going to trade CP3 for an injury prone C. The Hornets will make any team trading for CP3 take on Okafor as well. So i highly doubt LA would do that, or CAN do that.

  • talesofJP

    The CP3 to LA talk is rediculous, and it would make Kobe mad anyway, since he needs the ball and needs to take a million shots. Kobe basically needs to change the way that he plays and let the other guys on that team dominate games, since he can't do it as much anymore. Kobe might still be young in age, but he is up there in basketball age, with a ton of games played and minutes logged. I hope LA blows it up.

  • Batman

    LA does not need to blow it up.
    Even though I hate L.A, it doesn't do me any good to wish they didn't succeed
    This team can contend, they just need a few tweaks
    Even if they went into next year with the same team they would still be a force to be reckoned with, they just need a couple little tweaks to truly contend

  • Guest

    Celtics need to work as hard as possible to talk Dwight Howard into joining them, then after that, I had a crazy idea when they were talking on sports center if the Lakers should trade Gasol for having terrible playoff games that you could use Jeff Green and Big Baby possibly as bargaining chips to get him over to the Celtics as well, then throw Delonte in the 2 guard spot if Ray is no longer with the team. It's a long shot but man would it be awesome. It wouldn't make the team younger really but it would open the championship window a little longer. Plus who wouldn't want to see countless alley oop passes from Rondo to Superman?

  • Guest

    Oh and the Lakers suck so it wasn't even worth bringing up what they should do.

  • I_Love_Green

    So I'm watching the ESPN 30 for 30 about the Sox comeback from an 0-3 deficit to the Yanks. Not gonna lie, its given me hope our Celtics this year. We gotta take it one game at a time, but if we win game 5, its an entirely different series.

    DON'T LET US WIN GAME 5 MIAMI! YOU BETTER PUT US AWAY IN 5!!

    • Batman

      Don't bring that up! Don't remind me of 2004……

      • I_Love_Green

        A yankees fan!?!?!??!!

        • Batman

          yes I'm the Celtics fan from New York
          regional man for baseball though

  • Keyser Soze

    Is Howard to the Celtics a realistic possibility? The Perkins trade seems to have been built for something like that.

    I hate thinking this far ahead but as much as I hope our guys pull this off, it just seems like such a long shot…

    • I_Love_Green

      Not really. If we're even on his list we're probably at the bottom.

    • Batman

      I honestly don't think he will leave Orlando

  • Box

    We beat them bums from boston so choke on that crumbs yell

    • Batman

      What?

  • James Patrick

    I want Blake Griffin in a Celtics Uniform!!!

    • Guest

      Maybe in 10 years.

    • Batman

      No screw Blake Griffin I want Eric Gordon

  • kricky

    I want Dwight! I don't want him to go to the Fakers either. Let's do everything to make this happen – even if we need to eat Gil's contract next year.

    • Batman

      It looks mighty uneatable though……gonna upset our stomachs

  • kehntangibles

    As much as I and almost every other Laker fan right now wants to blot the entire team out of existence right now, it's not going to happen and moreover, it probably shouldn't happen. It's a clearly flawed team and changes will have to be made, but it's also a team that a) has won the last two titles and b) doesn't have a lot of tradeable assets that it'd readily give up. Those two factors, for better or worse, will limit what we can do.

    I'm not going to try to get in the heads of Kobe, Mitch Kupchak or Jerry Buss. I'll have to trust them to make the right moves, and on the whole they've proven worthy of our trust. They'll do something, but what they won't do is overreact to Laker's season-ending debacle. The old axiom about not throwing out the baby with the bathwater comes to mind. The Laker braintrust is smart enough to not throw out the baby, even if we did royally crap our pants in the bathwater. And that's the thing – as a Laker fan, especially one who's lived through the Phil Jackson, there is always going to be an odd mixture of calm AND drama; you develop a certain ability to be Zen about things, because with as much drama that surrounds the team, what else can you do?

    I'm not trying to downplay the ugly way we lost – it was ugly – other than to say that the Lakers tend to do everything in utterly compelling fashion. It does, though, bring home the reality of just how hard it truly is to win a championship and what a struggle it is to even have that chance – something I think you guys can relate to.

  • drm

    michael redd is a free agent and has knee problems like bynum so we can proble get him cheap.he can come from off the bench to back up kobey.i think we should gut this line up.you have 2 6'9 rookie forwards we can back the starters we should try and trade and get chris paul rather then howard and we should try and trade and get ride of ron artest

  • zep

    Honestly, that was bush league from Bynum but it's a little hard to take the holier-than-thou stuff from Celtics fans. The favorite play of your garden-variety Celts fan, in the history of Lakers-Celtics, is McHale clotheslining Rambis, a way more dangerous play than Bynum's idiocy. Not that it excuses it, but please, easy on the sanctimony.

  • Renato Afonso

    This blowing up the team thing is a complete nonsense. First of all, this article touches the thing that won't allow that to happen: bad contracts. The Lakers have plenty of those and have offered huge contracts to players who didn't deserve them. However, the Buss family is not known to blow up the team that easily nor to trade just for the sake of trading. The Lakers have a few problems, the main of which is obvious the lack of athletic wings and the one thing the Lakers need to address.

    I, personally, think we should give Ebanks a chance to show what he's got since Phil never played rookies at all. Artest's contract is an albatross and unless the Lakers can move him (yes, I dream we can move him) the Lakers will have to rely on Ebanks. One thing I would like to see more, against certain teams in specific situations, is the huge lineup with Odom, Gasol and Bynum on the floor. It can work, as long as the Lakers have a coach that doesn't do pattern substitutions just because everyone else does so.

    The Lakers also need a starting PG who, contrary to what people believe, does not need to be an outstanding player. He needs to be taller than average and hit the open three pointer when presented with the opportunity and play defense, period. He does not need insane ball skills, nor to create his own shot or even slash to the rim at will.

    Ideally, the Lakers whould keep their best 4 players along with Fisher (who would be the backup PG), Ebanks and maybe Caracter (if the Lakers brass believes he is worth keeping).

    Anyway, for better understanding on how the triangle works, since breaking up with the system would be moronic due to the nature of the roster, you can check my post from the beginning of 2007. Please, take in mind that Kobe had demanded a trade, talked about Bynum in a parking lot, Gasol was totting away in Memphis and Luke Walton just had that career year shooting incredibly well.

    Here's the link:
    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2007/08/13/the-tr

    On a more personal note, I thought that Javaris Crittenton would be a great fit in the triangle and still believe so. Maybe he would be worth a chance. I also absolutely love the play of Shaun Livingston, too bad he had that freak injury and never really developed an outside stroke. I was high on Arron Afflalo since his UCLA days but now he is nothing more than a pipe dream for every team outside of Colorado. I was also against the Ariza for Artest de facto trade. Sure that Artest was essential to beat the Celtics (due to Paul Pierce) but I knew we would eventually pay the price of trading young for old on an veteran team. And yes, I liked the idead of Chris Mihm as a backup center for any team. He had enough skill, size and toughness.

    And Keefe, I believe the Lakers will have a couple of more years of contending with this current roster before this teams is handed over to Bynum and whoever is in the roster…

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