The LA Lakers. NBA's premier franchise. Sure, you can put Boston up there too… but since NBA/ABA merger, not a single franchise has been as successful as the one in purple 'n gold. But anyone could be forgiven for thinking there be tough times ahead, at least in the short term.
– Kobe Bryant goes down with an achilles injury, requires surgery…
– Dwight Howard (the supposed Heir Apparent) walks, heads to Houston…
– Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison head outta town…
Metta World Peace Ron Artest is amnestied, and depending on what you're reading is headed to China or New York (I'm far more upset about that than Dwight leaving!!!)…
So… hard times ahead, huh? Time to rebuild, right?
Well… that simply wouldn't be LA. If I was a betting man (and hey, I might just head over to a Sports Betting
site after this!), then I would bet on LA making the playoffs. Not that I particularly want them to – I was very clear last week about what I would like to see the Lakers do
As far as the Lakers? Where to now? It appears as if they're focusing heavily on 1 year contracts. Clearing a hellacious amount of space leading into next year's free agency – where some of the biggest names in basketball are available. But I'd side with Bill Simmons and take it one step further. The Lakers should be tearing it down this coming season, and "riggin' for Wiggins".
There are a helluva lotta good picks in a very strong draft next season. Trade Nash. Sell Pau near the deadline. Encourage Kobe to take his time with his achilles rehab. Go one better than Riley and get good picks and massive space for free agents.
But… I doubt that is on the cards. LA have signed Chris Kaman – not quite a "journeyman" center, but you can see that slot from where he stands. Nick Young – once a run 'n gun shooter – but much maligned these days. Wes Johnson – a former 4th pick in the NBA draft by the Timberwolves in the 2010 draft, last season languishing on the bench for the Suns.
There's a real sense of redemption in Lakerland. Kobe looking to come back in nigh on record time from his surgery (having had the exact same surgery as him, a month after – I am completely amazed at his progress). Pau Gasol getting to be the centerpiece big on the team again, and I suspect that this season we'll remember who he is/was. And pardon me if thinking that a Kaman grateful for an opportunity might be a better fit than a sulking Dwight Howard.
Time'll tell. I do wish it was ok to set our sights a little lower, get Kobe to take a little more time with rehab (remember what happened to San Antonio when David Robinson sat out better part of a season injured? The Spurs turned that into Tim Duncan and the better part of two decades of dominance!), but hey – this is the Lakers.