Los Angeles Lakers: What Needs to Change This Offseason?

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.

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol simply doesn’t fit into this Los Angeles Lakers team–he needs a change of scenery. (Photo Credit to Keith Allison, Flickr.com)

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.

Monta Ellis

Could Monta Ellis’ contract demands be too high if the Milwaukee Bucks’ guard opts for free agency this summer? Photo Credit: Pablo Gamez, IsoSports

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.

Tags: 2013 Offseason Dwight Howard Los Angeles Lakers Mike D'Antoni Monta Ellis NBA Pau Gasol

  • Walt Coogan

    You write well for a young guy.

    Let me clarify that Pau Gasol is a decent fit for D’Antoni’s system, but not as a power forward alongside Howard. Therein lies the dilemma, and you’re correct that if Howard re-signs, the Lakers would probably need to move Gasol.

    Still, the D’Antoni system of widely spaced pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops that you describe is never going to be fully implemented so long as Kobe Bryant is around. Monta Ellis isn’t going to sign with a team just to come off the bench, and his presence would further clutter an already cluttered offense. Personally, I think that the Lakers should be doing more to reduce the minutes that Bryant and Nash play together. They can still start and finish games (and halves) in the same back-court, but if LA wants to maximize Nash in widely spaced pick-and-rolls (the system that turned him into an MVP recipient in Phoenix), then the team needs to separate his minutes from Bryant’s more often. Ellis’ presence, on the other hand, would further jumble matters and he has not proven to be a good three-point shooter, rendering him a weak complement to ball-handlers such as Bryant and Nash. Most likely, LA will need to focus on acquiring better defensive players to supplement and protect their offensive stars.