PERHAPS WE CAN START BY TAKING THE CAR KEYS FROM THE OWNERS' SON BEFORE HE RUNS SOMEBODY OVER?: A FREE-AGENCY BATTLE PLAN FOR THE LAKERS

Few teams face as much uncertainty as the 2012 Lakers. Depending on your perspective, last years’ epic collapse against the Mavericks was either the end of the Lakers run or a mere speedbump on the way to continued dominance.

Whatever the case, things will be different around here. Phil Jackson is gone, and by all accounts he is the victim of the same kind of jealousy that ran him out of Chicago after winning the last of six Championships. Back then, it was the product of Jerry Krause’s desire to develop another dynasty, one that he would actually get the credit for. If reports are to be believed, Jim Buss (the owners son, mind you) is hell-bent on the same type of mission, and so far it would appear that his bright idea is centered around the hiring of former Cleveland coach Mike Brown and the continued development of Center Andrew Bynum, the same guy Buss has considered his project since convincing daddy to draft him in 2005.

No really, that’s his plan.

So yeah, Jimmy Buss scares the piss out of me. Now, I am doing my best not to overreact to these developments, but its hard to keep cool based on what people like Brian Shaw have said publicly regarding the current state of the Lakers.

Suffice to say, there is definitely reason to be worried. Worse, this situation is impossibly complicated. Between the impending luxury tax that will be waiting to smack the Lakers over the head and steal their prvoerbial purse in 2014, the aging roster, questionable front office leadership and what just may be the end of Kobe Bryant’s status as a dominant force, this team might have more questions than answers.

RIGHT MOVE


Have faith in what you’ve built


Forget about what happened in last years’ playoffs. What’s done is done. Truth is, this is still a championship-caliber roster, in need of but a few minor moves. Yeah, the clock is ticking on this bunch, but breaking up this team in any meaningful way would be a panic move.

As was obvious last year, the Lakers are in desperate need of help at point guard. Bless Derek Fisher, but the decision to bring him back after his performance in the 2010 playoffs was a sentimental decision that basically backfired, and the addition of Steve Blake was a disaster in year one. Now that the Lakers will likely abandon the triangle offense, they’re gonna need a point guard who can run the team and be capable of playing something even approaching decent defense. The way Dallas exploited the Lakers perimeter D was downright embarrassing, and nobody who knows anything about the NBA is going to feel good about their chances until a change is made here.

Thing is, it’s easier than you might think. In a perfect world they’d find a way to add another big man to the rotation, someone athletic and full of energy who’ll be able to play enough to keep Pau Gasol from running out of steam like he did last year.

Like I said, neither of these moves should be too hard to make.

WRONG MOVE

Breaking up the party too soon


Truth is, this covers alot of ground. Moving Gasol as a result of the giant egg he laid in last years’ playoffs would qualify as crazy. So would any decision to dump Andrew Bynum that didn’t involve Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. Attempting to ship Kobe out now would be the craziest shit imaginable, even if it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad basketball move.

Yeah, Kobe might be past his prime and likely not worth what he’s making, but the guy is an L.A. icon, and even the slightest hint that the Lakers are ready to ditch him is likely to cause a full-fleged public relations nightmare. Even if they got equal value for Bryant in a trade (never happens when superstars are traded, by the way), and somehow managed to remain in the thick of the title hunt, they’d still have a hard time living it down.

BOTTOM LINE

As bad as they faltered last May, there is absolutely no logical reason to assume they’ve been left for dead. With the smallest of tweaks they can be right back in the championship mix. Unfortunately, that might include trading Lamar Odom or using the amnesty card on Ron Artest (and therefore saying “peace” to peace, if you will), but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you gotta do. Point is, this team has done enough to earned the right to prove last year was a fluke, and breaking them up in any significant way right now would be a catastrophic mistake.

keep your fingers crossed, I guess.

-John Hathwell

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