The Lakers, at 9-14, are off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. They fired their head coach Mike Brown after just the 5th game of the season and quickly hired offensive guru Mike D’Antoni as Brown’s replacement in hopes he could save their season. No such luck. They are currently on a four game losing streak and are 3-7 in their last 10 contests. Both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol continue to struggle with nagging injuries. Kobe Bryant seems to grow more disgruntled and frustrated after each and every game. Dwight Howard is not the dominating force we came to know and love in Orlando. The Lakers truly are a mess.
With the current season pretty much deemed a failure, the focus should shift to next season where things could easily be worse as Dwight Howard becomes the free agent he has always wanted to be. I’m guessing the Lakers aren’t high on his list of teams to sign with for next season with the direction this team is headed.Fast forward to the end of this 2012-13 season. It’s looking less and less promising that the Lakers will be making the playoffs. Why would Dwight Howard even consider coming back to a losing team? What do the Lakers do if Dwight Howard wants to leave Hollywood? Blow it up and start from scratch.
The Lakers are one of the oldest teams in the NBA with players averaging an age of 28.4 years old – and they aren’t getting any younger. Being an old team and not winning games is a bad combination. Kobe Bryant is in his 17th season in the NBA and can no longer win games by himself like he could in his younger years. The Lakers are still only 1-10 this season when Kobe does manage to score 30+ points in a game. I believe Kobe will remain a Laker for the remainder of his career. However, I don’t think that is the case for Pau Gasol.
Gasol has been in rumored trade talks since what seems like the beginning of the season. The Lakers need to pull the trigger already. In return for Gasol, the team can receive draft picks and young talent which are highly valued assets to a team looking to rebuild. Kobe may not be able to win games by himself anymore, but there is no one better to keep around as amentor for young players. Dwight Howard may walk away after this season, but the draft picks and young exciting players the Lakers receive with a Gasol trade and through the draft would be appealing.
Now fast forward to the beginning of the 2013-14 season. Dwight Howard is gone via free agency.Pau Gasol is gone via trade. Steve Nash and Kobe are the only superstars that remain. This is a good thing! Contrary to what the majority may think, Mike D’Antoni will still be the coach in LA next season. Consider the young athletic talent brought in as a result of the Gasol trade and draft picks and the offense can run more like a Mike D’Antoni offense should. With Steve Nash running the point, Kobe as a spot-up shooter and playmaker, and young athletic players to run the floor, I see next year as an improvement without Howard and Gasol clogging the middle. The offense will be free flowing, fast and full of space to make plays. We may finally get the Showtime Lakers 2.0 that this season failed to bring.
All of this hangs on one big question: What if Dwight Howard doesn’t resign with the Lakers? Are the Lakers doomed to a repeat of this season? I don’t believe so. Howard signing with another team just might be what the Lakers and D’Antoni need. It would improve the offense, bring in young talent for the post-Kobe era that is inevitably coming for the Lakers and allow the Lakers’ offense to run more smoothly. Goodbye to the awkward offense and a team without chemistry. Say hello to the run-and-gun Lakers. It is just what D’Antoni wants and it just may be what D’Antoni gets. Only time will tell. Until then, enjoy it while you can Laker haters; change may be just around the corner.
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