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What the Lakers should do when the lockout ends

Sep 6, 2011, 12:23 PM EST

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

Welcome to the first installment of a fun lockout series here at PBT… okay, there nothing is fun about the lockout. It blows. But whenever it ends teams are going to have to scramble to fill holes and make moves. What follows is a discussion of what the Los Angeles Lakers need to do to when the lockout ends. Tomorrow we will feature the Dallas Mavericks, and from there we will work our way through all 30 teams. Enjoy.

Last season in Los Angeles: The Lakers came in as the two-time defending champions and won an impressive 57 games, but there was no aura of invincibility around this team. They had losing streaks and as the season wore on the team looked mentally and physically tired. That culminated in the second round of the playoffs, when a Mavericks team hitting their stride swept the Lakers. Los Angeles seemed unwilling and unable to step up their game and make adjustments.

Since we last saw the Lakers: Phil Jackson walked away, all the way from Los Angeles to Montana, where he is sitting on the porch on his ranch and not thinking giving a fleeting thought to hoops. Former Cavs head man Mike Brown was brought in as coach. The players wanted Brian Shaw, but Jim Buss (the guy calling the shots in L.A. now) wanted to sweep all things Jackson out of the organization. The result is a new offensive philosophy and talk of new defensive commitment.

In terms of players, there has been very little change. The core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and dancing Ron Artest (soon to be Metta World Peace) all are still under contract.

When the lockout ends, the Lakers need to… get a new point guard and get behind Mike Brown.

Brown has sounded like a guy who has got the right idea — if the Lakers are going to win another title it will be because they use more Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, allowing Kobe Bryant to pick his spots. He cannot carry a team to a title now. Brown has talked about using parts of the Spurs offense from their twin-towers era of Tim Duncan and David Robinson). It’s a smart move.

But Derek Fisher and Steve Blake — the two point guards on the Lakers roster — are not going to be able to run that show. Not well enough. Which means the Lakers need a new point guard. The free agent market is not loaded with good players (unless you think T.J. Ford is a good player, and if you do we need to talk).

The Lakers may have to trade for a point guard (hard to say right now who becomes available once teams see the new labor deal).

There is not a lot of trade bait on the Lakers roster. Some Lakers fans want Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol moved, but neither of those guys is going anywhere unless a Dwight Howard-level player is coming back. Nor should they be — you win by going big, not point guards. The more likely move is something like Lamar Odom for a reasonable point guard and a backup big. But even that will not be easy to pull off for GM Mitch Kupchak.

Even if the Lakers do not make a move before the season, the bigger issue is buying in and being committed to what Brown wants to install. The Lakers don’t have a year to blow protesting a coach, their championship window is open but not much longer.

Darius, the guy behind the Lakers blog Forum Blue & Gold, told us exactly that in an email.

The Lakers need to get into the gym to work on the X’s and O’s that new coach Mike Brown is implementing in order to be as comfortable as possible with the new schemes when the games start. The Lakers may be a veteran team that is viewed as easily adaptable, but they’re also abandoning a long established system in a (potentially) shortened off-season. That change brings a loss of comfort and any lack of commitment from the players can sink the season before it even starts. They’ll need to learn what the new coach wants, conform to the new approach, and execute at a high level right out of the gate. There will be little time for floundering; not when the reigning champ resides in their conference and teams like the Thunder, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Blazers look to build on their own foundations for success.

Kobe may have wanted Shaw as a coach, but he wants a ring more. And the only way he gets another one is to be fully on board with Brown and bring the team with him. If that happens, and the Lakers get better play at the point, they are title contenders.

  1. silverdeer - Sep 6, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Here is a trade for them to go for. Trade Lamar to Minny for Darko and Ridenour. It works within the cap and it would be good (if for nothing more than) reading about how Lamar’s wife hates the Minnesota winters….

    • 00maltliquor - Sep 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM

      That’s the worst trade ever. Doesn’t even make sence for Minny either, as many combo forwards that they have with more upside and less money.

      • passerby23 - Sep 6, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        The truth is the Lakers don’t have any trade bait to offer to get what they need. Lamar Odom is a dynamic big who spells Gasol and Bynum. What happens if there’s an injury to Bynum (not an unlikely scenario)? Fatigue or foul trouble with Gasol? Darko is going to fill in? I don’t think so.

        Not only that, but the Laker roster is too old to be attractive to other teams. A contender could use a solid veteran player, but what would they have to give up to get one?

        The Lakers are stuck. I think they’ll have to roll out with the roster they’ve got for one more kick at the can. If Dallas secures Chandler and Butler, both Dallas and OKC are better than the Lakers.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      how about we trade you Andrew Goudelock for Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams instead?

    • busboys4me - Sep 10, 2011 at 10:28 PM

      Terrible trade idea. Wow. The Lakers need a point and the only point they can get without ruining their core is Ramon Sessions. They can’t get rid of any of the bigs because they are thin but talented at the Center and Power Foward positions. That’s why any trade involving a big has to bring back one. Not too many bigs in the League are better than Pau, Drew, and Odom so it would have to be a Dwight Howard type trade to make sense.

    • trbowman - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:49 PM

      I think that’s an amazing trade idea. No, I am not being sarcastic.

  2. 00maltliquor - Sep 6, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Trading away Gasol and/or Bynum would be devastatingly foolish…UNLESSSS…it’s for Josh Howard. Kidding, kidding. Dwight.

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