Monday, May 9, 2011

The times they are a-changin'...

The unthinkable has happened... a two-time defending championship team was just swept in the second round by a lower seed without a major injury to any of their rotation players. Magic Johnson was right when he said they need to blow it up, but what then? Let's take a look at the things which I think should happen for the Lakers to bounce back sooner than normal.

  • Kobe and Fisher should retire. This isn't just the best thing for the Lakers, it's best for Kobe. He clearly has become a pure jump-shooter, and lacks the capacity to take over games on either end anymore. His body is worn down, he's played 15 seasons, won 5 rings, two Finals MVPs and a regular season MVP, plus a wealth of All-NBA and All-Star selections. Before he goes the way of his draft-mate Allen Iverson where he is forced out for not being able to accept a position as less than alpha dog, it might be time to call it quits and preserve his legacy. It's hard to believe that the Lakers can win another title with Miami only getting better as time wears on and a number of young teams (OKC, Memphis) nipping at their heels. With Phil Jackson going, it would be best for all concerned to get a clean break for Kobe, Fisher and the Lakers.
  • In Bynum we trust. I've long argued that Bynum has all the tools to be a franchise C with more touches, and with Bryant or without, he should be the focus of their offense. When he's healthy, and playing aggressively there's very little teams can do to stop him when he gets the touches.
  • Lie, cheat, steal and trade to get your hands on Donatas Motiejunas. This guy is the perfect compliment to Bynum; a versatile young scorer inside who at 7 feet will preserve the size advantage the Lakers have over every other team. I wouldn't hesitate for a second in trading Gasol for Motie, who looks to be a younger, more physical player who would thrive in the bright lights of LA and serve as an insurance against a Bynum injury. Often compared to a young Dirk, the Lakers should consider trading everyone outside of Bynum to nab this kid.
  • Trade for a pick in the late first or early second to draft Josh Selby; a formerly #1 ranked player, Selby battled injury and inconsistent playing time in Kansas, but he still has star potential, and in a league dominated by athletic, scoring PGs, the Lakers are a few steps behind where they are now. Selby and Bynum would form a potent pick and roll tandem, and while they might end up in the lottery next season, blooding your young talent and getting a shot at landing one of the star potential SFs (Gilchrist, Jones, Barnes, Miller) in 2012 could see L.A. be on the upswing faster than you'd imagine.
For argument's sake let's say these things happen and they manage to pick at say #5 in the 2012 draft. Their team would look like this:

Selby - PG
Brown - SG
Gilchrist - SF
Motiejunas - PF
Bynum - C

That team is young, long and most importantly, rife with athleticism, which is something current Lakers sorely lack. Are you telling me that with good coaching and health from Bynum that team couldn't be back in the title hunt as early as 2015? Make it happen Mitch, because it would just be too weird seeing the Lakers fade into irrelevance whilst the Thunder and Memphis dominate the West.

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