Welcome to the Lakers’ Postseason From Hell, where Laker Nation has just two things to say:
The first one we’ll leave to the rest of the NBA, even The Heatles, who we dislike immensely, which means we think they’re Mother Teresa compared to Boston. Now that we’ve recovered a bit from the trainwreck that was the Dallas series, let’s start yammering about the second. Where do you want to begin – Kobe or koaching?
Considering the most decorated coach in the game just watched his team pull off one of the all-time flame jobs, we figure we should get to the suit later and start with the guys wearing short pants beginning with the one who matters most.
What you want to see the Lakers do in their now-extended offseason depends on how much you think Mamba has left in his tank. Remember Michael Jordan’s final season in the league? You know, the last of two he played in Washington when he was 39.
Well, when he plays his next professional basketball game, Kobe will be 33 years old, and he’ll have pretty much the same amount of tread on his tires as MJ did when he hung ‘em up. He’s played 31 more league games than Jordan and 174 fewer minutes. Plus, Kobe’s spent far more time wearing the national team uni than Jordan did. Unlike Jordan, he also hasn’t taken a couple long sabbaticals during his career. (Ahh…memories of Jordan as bad baseball player.)
So, unless you think Kobe’s going to go Ochocinco and play midfield for Tottenham Hotspur or something – remember, spent a bunch of time in Italy as a kid and is a big futbol fan – he’s got, at most, two or three productive years left in him. If we were Jerry Buss, we’d say the hell with rebuilding and do everything possible to win now, or at least whenever the NBA resumes playing after the upcoming labor cataclysm. (Of course, if we were Jerry Buss, we’d probably be too busy nailing college coeds to worry about this stuff, but who’s counting?)
If you’re Jerry Buss & Company, you need three things: a point guard, a small forward, and more depth, including a real backup shooting guard for the first time in 15 years. You’re capped out, meaning you’ve got one midlevel exception contract you can offer – or split – that should be worth about $6 mil a year.
In other words, you need some guys who’ve gotten paid and want a chance to win. Those, friend, will be some slim pickins, especially since Miami will be trying to do the same thing at the point and center. Here’s the best we can figure out for each spot, and “best” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”, just “best available”.
Point Guard. In case CP3 and Jose Berea didn’t make it obvious, the Forum Blue & Gold have got to do something at the point. So, how would you feel about…Jose Berea!!! Just one problem: dude hasn’t gotten paid yet. If he can scare up better than the mid-level exception, he’s going where the money is.
Jamal Crawford’s probably on the way out in Atlanta, but he’s still in his prime and just pulled $56 mil for seven years. It’s hard to believe he’d come to Staples for five and $30 mil, but if he would, you make that move in a heartbeat. Mike Bibby can’t play D and is well into the downhill slide into the weekend retirement, so we’ll just say no.
Let’s see: the first two options probably won’t come for the money Mitch Kupchak can offer. Bibby would be the last thing the Lakers need – a defensive liability at the point.
Is there a trade out there somewhere?
Shooting Guard. Kobe went from 39 to 34 minutes a game this year. He’s bound for the low 30′s for the rest of his career – at least until playoff time. Shannon Brown, who a year ago was this incredibly promising athlete the Lakers just had to keep, is apparently not the answer.
Maybe Mo Pete is. Dude was a beast. Five years ago. Then he turned into a china doll. On the other hand, if you work him out hard and he looks good and he’ll take a minimum deal…you’ll realize that his numbers the last three years were worse than Brown’s this year, so maybe not.
Michael Redd was still filling it up two years ago until he started shredding ACL’s. If he’s healthy, he’s worth the risk, and considering he just made $90 mil over five years, and now he’s damaged goods, he ought to be willing to come over for the minimum and compete for a ring.
Yep, the pickings are slim, but Redd might have some real upside.
Small Forward. As disappointing as Ron Ron has been, the Lakers aren’t getting out from under his contract without taking a bad deal in return. That’s probably why Fate, with a twisted sense of humor, has provided better options at the three.
Caron Butler’s out there, and the Lakers would kill to have him back. Considering he’s an All-Star, we can’t for the life of us figure out why he’d come back to L.A. for the mid-level exception, so unless Mark Cuban’s collecting oddities, there’s no sign and trade for Ron Ron and whoever on the way.
Grant Hill, however, took $3.2 mil from Phoenix this year, and he can still ball. Peja Stojakovic, if you can bear to look at him after the Dallas series, took the minimum this year, so he’s an option. Mike Dunleavy Jr. pulled $10 mil last year for less production, so that’s a no go.
Assuming that the Lakers haven’t got a hope in hell at Butler, why not take a shot on Hill or Peja if they’ll sign? You’ll still have Ron Ron to play half a game and L.O. to float between the three and four.
Okay, those are the basic options. Of course, here at 96-7 KCAL Rocks, we prefer to think big. Over the top big.
Tomorrow – unless we get second-hand Stu and wait until Thursday, we’ll share some of our more bent ideas with you.
Until then, burn a novena candle in the window for the Lakers. Either that, or see if you can build a time machine, go back in time, and make everything right again in Lakerland.