IF YOU'RE GONNA DIE, DIE WITH YOUR BOOTS ON IF YOU'RE GONNA DIE (THE LAKERS LACK OF A PLAN HAS THEM GRASPING AT STRAWS)

Sometimes, when you’re stuck for answers, you have to look to 1980’s Heavy metal for the wisdom you seek. Iron Maiden said it way back then, and it’s as true now as it ever was.

You gotta die with your boots on.

I mean, even if we all knew the Lakers were gonna be in the market for dramatic changes and had enough weapons to make it happen, certainly nobody was prepared for what has happened so far. You’d have to be part fortune teller, part CSI whiz to have seen any of this coming.

Plan A was Chris Paul, and that plan is officially dead now. As brave and dramatic a move as it was, it wasn’t exactly the most practical. As tempting as a Kobe-Paul backcourt was (possibly the greatest ever?), the Lakers would have gone from the deepest frontcourt in the league to having to really on Andrew Bynum being healthy all season.

Yikes.

Left with little in the way of money or assets to improve the depth up front, the Lakers would have had to resort to pulling a power forward off the scrap heap and crossing their fingers. To me, that plan was simply lacking in realism. Why break up a nucleus that has won two championships without any kind of real plan in place? I mean, if you thought Andrew Bynum was enough to fetch Dwight Howard, you’re either crazy, stupid or both.

(Yeah, I just called Jimmy Buss crazy. Remind me to gloat later when we find out for sure.)

Sure, nobody could have planned for the omnipotent David Stern and his hammer of fairplay justice, but that’s certainly no reason to panic. Trading Lamar Odom to Dallas for nothing but a trade exception sure feels like panic to me, but we won’t know for sure until we find out what the next move is.

Now, I would attempt to venture a guess, but since I can’t even pretend to understand the Lakers’ thought process here, I’m gonna settle for what makes sense to me.

I’m thinking the only way out of this mess is to make the strongest play possible for Dwight Howard, and luckily for the Lakers, they have the most to offer. Only a few teams are in position to offer enough talent and take back Hedo Turkoglu’s anchor of a contract, and they happen to be one of them. Throwing Pau Gasol AND Andrew Bynum (it hurts, I know) at Orlando is the only way to go at this point. It’s an offer they simply cannot refuse. Nobody but nobody can match this offer. Oh, and a quick check of the math tells me that Bynum and Gasol for Howard, Turkoglu and point guard Jameer Nelson would work under the salary cap. Yeah, it’s a huge, messy, risky deal. It also makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Well then, what are we waiting for?

Do it now and don’t look back. This move not only brings the young superstar the Lakers covet for their eventual rebuilding project, but solves the short-term problem of being totally inept at the point guard spot. Nelson has been known to get hurt now and again, but he’s still 29, still a gamer, and still a good friend of Howard’s. All that would be left to do is go out and seek a reliable big man with the 9 million dollar trade exception acquired in the Lamar trade and you’re ready to roll, for both now and the foreseeable future. If Orlando won’t part with Nelson for some reason, switch it around to include a couple of big bodies (Big Baby and Ryan Anderson works for me) or JJ Redick and you can still pick up what you need with the trade exception. Problem solved.

Maybe this is their plan, maybe it isn’t. One can only hope. Whatever they do, they have to be swift and decisive, lest they start the season with this fractured, beleaguered roster. The Lakers are in a real jam here, having gone halfway out on the ledge only to have to window slam shut and lock behind them.

As the old saying goes, If you’re gonna pull it out, you’ve gotta use it. Well, the Lakers have already drawn their guns. Time to go all the way with it and hope for the best.

Either way, it’s too late to turn back now.
-John Hathwell

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Iron Maiden has all the answers you seek. Well, today at least…

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