It’s Day Four of the Longest Lakers Postseason Ever. Luckily, with an NBA labor war on the horizon, we’ve probably only got between 8 and 18 months to get over it.
Yesterday, we ran out the predictable ideas regarding the Lakers’ real areas of need: point guard, small forward and the bench. In a Forum Blue & Gold Dreamworld, that would entail Our Heroes finding a way to talk Jamal Crawford into taking the mid-level salary cap exception, which should be around $6 mil a year, to play the point, and getting Michael Redd and Grant Hill or Peja Stojakovic for the league minimum.
That could happen, but it probably won’t. More importantly, there’s something wrong with the Lakers. We can’t tell exactly what that something is, but every Lakers “era” became an era after they got a huge jolt to their system, when they picked up (1980′s) Magic Johnson, (1990′s) Kobe and Shaq, and (2000′s) Pau Gasol.
The Lakers need another bolt out of the Forum Blue, and we have a couple of twisted ideas where they can get one. You probably already know what one of them is, but other the one might freak you out.
Okay, let’s start at Point Obvious. ‘Drew Bynum came of age this year Spring. When not trying to separate Jose Berea from his cerebellum, he was the second-best player on the team for two months. You can make a pretty good case that he’s the second-best center in the league right now. Clearly, he’s bound for superstardom!!! Or, he’s bound for prettygoodplayerdom as long as his knees hold out!!!!!
Just one thing: he’s no Superman. Dwight Howard is the best center of his generation, the dominant inside player that the Lakers have had for 14 of their 16 NBA championships. ‘Drew might develop (or his knees might go boom again). Dwight is developed, a defensive stud who can dominate a game from the paint and fill it up on the offensive end of the floor.
Dwight’s also got two more years on his deal. He’s also got a huge freaking chip on his shoulder, and he’s as unhappy about Orlando’s first round failure as Kobe is about the Lakers’ second round collapse. Realistically, there’s no reason the Magic would send him to L.A., but if he wants out bad enough and puts the gun to their head, nobody can give them what the Lakers can.
Here’s the thing: with the Lakers having little to offer, they need to hold out, probably into next season. If they do, here’s betting they can get Superman for Bynum straight up, rather than having to throw in, say, L.O. in order to make the deal. Let’s be clear on this: however much crap you hear about Lamar being “inconsistent”, it would be the height of stupidity to move him unless you get one helluva return on the deal.
Are we fantasizing? Yep, but there’s more than a touch of possibility here, and if you can exchange ‘Drew for Dwight, you do it without a second thought. Besides, if you think that’s fantasizing, try the following on for size.
Pau Gasol has been the jolt that took the Lakers from meh to champions. He’s the most skilled big man in the game. Now, trade him. For what? Well now that you mention it…
Our wet dream was Zach Randolph, who has quietly become the best power forward in the game, and is a 20 and 10 machine. How he ended up with four teams the last five years we have no idea, and he was a free agent until a couple weeks ago when Memphis extended him. On the other hand, if the loon who owns the Grizzlies wants to reunite Pau with his brother, Mitch Kupchak should be glad to oblige.
Now, try this on for size:
Pau to Philadelphia, where Elton Brand has been disappointing, averaging three points and two boards a game less than Pau. Just one thing: the Sixers have to let Jrue Holiday come home to L.A. Take one look at his numbers – 14 and 6 – and you might not be overly impressed…until you realize he’s 20 years old and just starting to happen. In a year or two, he’ll be a regular all-star.
After an ugly Lakers post-season, what’s wrong with getting a little unhinged. Just don’t do anything crazy…like keeping the team intact.