Written by Sean Presley:
When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, basketball fans from all over the globe assumed it was going to be a Lakers vs Heat match up in this years’ NBA finals. On paper this was the best Lakers’ team ever assembled and the script had us all anxious for another Championship season. The Lakers have 5 future Hall of Famers starting and one possibly (Antwan Jamison) coming off the bench. Unfortunately, this years’ team has posted one of the worse Lakers records in recent history and the now appear to be on the brink of playoff elimination before the start of All Star Weekend. Laker Nation has watched the Fairy Tale ending to Kobe Bryant‘s career turn into a Nightmare as we went from possible contenders to potentially missing the playoff for just the second time in the last 19 years.
As a Laker die hard, I believe we can all make a contribution off the court to ensure that the team does not waste this season. So, in hope that the voice of the fans can spark a change I would like to share my thoughts on what moves can be made to ensure the Lakers, not only make the playoffs, but also contend for a title for the next few years.
We all know it would be foolish for teams like the Knicks, Thunder, Heat or Clippers to make any changes that could disturb their chances of winning this year and although the Dwight Howard to Nets rumors has reemerged, it is very unlikely that trade will happen. The Nets don’t have anything the Lakers want and unless they are willing to trade Deron Williams, I don’t see a player on their roster that will actually make the Lakers better. So to be more logical I have listed 9 ways to fix the Lakers season. Each is very realistic with a few hand shakes and number crunching, but overall, the list represents the hope our team can find that missing piece to our train’s track.
#1 – Mitch Kupchak, needs a reality cup check. First, he needs a pop in the back of the head from Mark Harmon ( inside joke for N.C.I.S. fans ) for not realizing he is the first leader of this team. Then pop him again for not drafting Phil Martin. The Lakers obviously need a talented guard who can defend the likes of Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving and Deron Williams. Phil Martin and Kobe in the same back court would shut down the offensive flow of 90% of the teams in the league. Steve Nash is awesome but he is older and slower. Phil Martin is still available, he went un-drafted due to lack of exposure.
More Importantly Mitch Kupchak needs to apologize to Phil Jackson. It’s obvious the two don’t like each other but only a fool chooses a coach with no rings over the legendary coach with 11 bling blings. I personally wanted to hire Derek Fisher as Lakers coach after Mike Brown was fired but seeing the in-game faces of my new look Lakers, I too feel like Phil Jackson may be their only hope.
Yes, they would be forced to still pay Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni if they do hire Phil but that cost is peanuts compared to the amount that the Lakers will pay next year in luxury taxes if they keep together the current roster. If Mitch Kupchak can swallow his pride and admit he is wrong, the Lakers can still make the playoffs. Maybe Kupchak needs to force Mike D’antoni to change his system. We all know the Lakers would contend with Phil Jackson running his triangle thru Dwight. If not and the Lakers do miss the Playoffs, I promise this will be Kupchaks last year as Laker GM. Regardless of what happens I believe my #1 point of view will be the easiest way to fix the Lakers.
#2 – The Charlotte Bobcats have one of the worse records in the league and without a clear franchise player, the Bobcats should be willing to make a move that would land them an All Star or ticket seller. Pau Gasol for Ben Gordon & Kemba Walker would improve the Lakers and it would finally give the Bobcats an identity with Kidd-Gilchrist at the top feeding off Gasol. The trade my even be better for the Bobcats, especially if they can get lucky in the Draft Lottery, but the real question here is would Michael Jordan be willing to make a move that improves Kobe’s chances of winning another ring. There are several options with the Bobcats, with Tyrus Thomas or Hakim Warrick but of course it all depends on the money and how the contracts balance out but the Bobcats roster looks like the best opportunity for a Lakers trade.
#3 – The Minnesota Timberwolves had recently said that Kevin Love is not a franchise player which was stupid to say because it is like a car salesman disclosing to a prospective buyer what’s really wrong with the car. They lowered Kevin Love’s value when all the rest of us only know about Kevin Love is what we see of him on those freakish ESPN highlights where he puts up numbers like 33 points and 21 rebounds? I think this would be the best available trade for the Lakers. I think the T-wolves might fair nicely with the two Spaniards ( Ricky Rubio & Gasol ) on the floor but I would be willing to trade Pau Gasol for Derrick Williams straight up. I think Derrick could really spark this team.
#4 – The New Orleans Hornets almost gave the Lakers the REAL missing piece in Chris Paul, but right now I would love to see a trade that resulted in Greivis Vasquez in a purple and gold jersey. He really held it down for the Hornets while Eric Gordon was out with injury and now Eric is back and proving the trade for him was not lopsided at all. To make the money right, Ryan Anderson and another player would need to be involved. The Lakers might need a third team involved in this trade to make the money work.
#5 – The Sacramento Kings have just been sold and may soon become the new Seattle SuperSonics. Their team is certainly far from being in contention and they have some youth that may blossom with the right organization leading the way. Both DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans have All Star Potential. In a 3 team trade with New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers, I have Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Greivis Vasquez coming to the Lakers, Cousins and John Salmons bolstering the Hornets roster and Gasol going to Seattle with cash and Draft picks. This would help all teams involved and give the Lakers an even better roster without losing anything.
#6 – The Toronto Raptors have a very high priced point guard in Jose Calderon and in a package with Kyle Lowry, I could see a trade for Pau Gasol happening and actually improving the team. The best part about this trade is the Calderon contract expires after the season so the Lakers would be saving around 30 million from next year luxury tax.
#7 – The Washington Wizards are set at guard for years to come. The tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal should blossom so I am pretty sure the Wizards wont mind giving up Jordan Crawford to an over paying customer. Crawford can ball and from what I have seen, he is the type of player that has his best moments when the spotlight gets brighter, such as the time when Crawford dunked on Lebron James at his Skills Academy. In my eyes Jordan Crawford is the most underrated and lowest paid future NBA all star. Mitch Kupchak must sleep with his eyes open and live with them shut.
#8 – The Los Angeles Lakers should accidentally switch Kobe Bryants Jersey to #8 to play tricks on his mind and make him think he is 27 again. Better yet, let’s change it to #81 to remind him of his night against the Toronto Raptors. The whole world is telling Kobe he and his team are old. I say get him some pizza and a root beer float before tonight’s game against the Thunder and let Kobe feel young again. We all know he might need to score 81 against the Thunder for a victory, maybe more considering it took that much to beat Jalen Rose and Chris Bosh, but a day after watching the reply of his historic performance for the first time, it is still unknown if Kobe still believes he can do it all by himself or is it possible he is wise enough to realize it is time to be # 2 (inside – out).
#9 – The Utah Jazz have way too many big men, but if they get the right team involved they can unload a lot of salaries and begin to focus on the big man they want for next year. Al Jefferson‘s contract expires at the end of the year so the Lakers might consider trading Gasol for him and possibly Mo Williams but I don’t see much reason for the Jazz to consider another big man. It would be perfect having Mo Williams, unfortunately the Lakers would surely need another team involved due to the overload the Jazz have at power forward.
Bottom line is there is a way to fix the Lakers season. As fans we just don’t believe, we know. We crunch the numbers, we check the rosters and most importantly, we watch every second of every game. Most fans would agree this can be fixed, so what is Mitch Kupchak waiting on?
– Sean Presley