The 2012-13 season promised a lot for the Los Angeles Lakers. Simply put, they haven’t delivered. A stuttering start saw coach Mike Brown fired after just five games, while Dwight Howard has not lived up to the tag of “best big man in the NBA.” The season isn’t over yet, but it’s hard to see the Lakers doing any real damage in the postseason when teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are streets ahead. This coming offseason is a big one for the Lakers.
Will Howard re-sign in LaLa land? Throughout last year’s offseason, the nonchalant superstar center made no secret of his desire to join Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace with the Brooklyn Nets. Howard had said he didn’t want to have to live up to a legacy. Nowhere is there more of a tradition of dominant big men than Los Angeles–Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal to name just two. Howard wanted to create his own dynasty. Having said that, you can’t walk away from the Lakers, can you? Too many superstars are mentally weak in today’s game. It’s time for Howard to grow up and live up to the expectations. He would also make the most money by staying in L.A. I can’t see him leaving.
Once Howard re-signs, the Lakers will have many dilemmas.
Firstly, they will need to move Pau Gasol. He doesn’t fit into coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. That’s without mentioning the huge $19 million he is owed through 2013-14. His talent and reputation mean someone will bite the bullet. Perhaps a deal could be struck to bring someone like Kevin Love to the Staples Center? Earl Clark has provided some solid support–but he is not good enough for the purple-and-gold to reign supreme in the NBA.
Regardless, Gasol will need to be moved on. A stretch 4, a lá Ryan Anderson, should be brought in. A pick-and-roll combination of Steve Nash and Howard and a pick-and-pop combination with a 4 that can hit the 3 makes for a nice varied offence.
Another area in which the Lakers have been poor this season is the bench. Steve Blake is simply not good enough. Jodie Meeks is a good spot-up shooter, but he can’t seem to find space in this offense. The Lakers need a ball-handler that can provide good production and scoring from the bench. Who is a free agent this year? Monte Ellis of the Milwaukee Bucks if he exercises his early termination option? Perhaps he’s a little too pricey, but it’s an area that needs to be addressed.
To conclude, there are many problems in L.A. Howard isn’t playing like Howard and the bench isn’t good enough. D’Antoni is not the right man for the job, but if they are to persist with him, they need a serious change of personnel, starting with moving Gasol. It’s vital the Lakers make changes; they won’t have Kobe Bryant for much longer. While most franchises focus on the long-term, the short-term is everything in LaLa Land.