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 The Los Angeles Lakers? Gone Till November

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Magic Man13
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PostSubject: The Los Angeles Lakers? Gone Till November   Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:47 am



The Lakers won the title this year. Beyond that, let's go over some things regarding the back-to-back champs that aren't all that interesting.

Kobe Bryant, who will be paid more than $30 million in 2013-14, will be back. So will Pau Gasol.

Derek Fisher is a free agent, and unlike the summer of 2004, the Lakers are the only team that likes him. He'll be back.

Ron Artest, Sasha Vujacicand Lamar Odom? They'll be back. Sometimes, they'll get the ball.

Andrew Bynum?

Andrew Bynum was drafted in 2005 by Jim Buss. Mitch Kupchak was the general manager back then, as is the case now, and Jim's father Jerry was and is the owner. But Jim Buss drafted Andrew Bynum. And Jim Buss loves Andrew Bynum, so you'll have a hard time convincing me that Mitch Kupchak will purposely dissolve the short-term relationship in favor of a, what, lithe 6-10 power forward?

First off, Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol are about the same player, except that Chris Bosh isn't as good as Pau Gasol. Secondly, the Lakers are not going to sign-and-trade Jim's buddy for a superfluous big forward to pair alongside another big forward.

On top of that? The Lakers would be stupid to make such a deal. Los Angeles shot way up in defensive efficiency this year with Bynum healthy, and shot way down (something like Game 4 in Boston serves as a bit of a reminder) with Andrew on the bench.

Is Andrew always on the bench? You bet. Have the Lakers suffered as a result?

Three finals appearances in a row? And who is on the horizon in the West? Honestly, who? The Thunder? The Trail Blazers, with a healthy Greg Oden(notes) and a new general manager? Nuggets? Jazz? Suns? Come on.

The Lakers are set. And another championship is theirs if they work the same routine for 82 games, pay enough attention during the playoffs, and then flip the switch during the finals. Because the team's stiffest challenge will come from a team in the Eastern Conference. Boston, perhaps. Orlando, more than likely. Whoever LeBron James signs with. The only thing stopping Los Angeles is itself.

Or, Kobe.

I don't care what you think about how I think about Kobe. The guy shot 6-24 in Game 7 of the finals, and his team's most important play came off of a terrible 3-pointer, this chucked in the final minutes, with Pau Gasol grabbing the offensive rebound and hitting a cutting Bryant for some sealing free throws. This guy thinks, in 2010, that shooting his way out of a slump from 20 feet and beyond is still the way toward championship basketball, and for all his knowledge of pro hoops and its history, he's nuts for thinking that.

Absolutely nuts. And if he continues to think that contested jump shots are the way toward another ring, and not team play? Then the Lakers will lose next year.

Because they needed seven games to beat the Celtics this year. Hell, six games to beat the Thunder and the Suns. And this team, really, should have won 70 and walked through the playoffs like Chicago did in 1996. Chicago lost three playoff games on its way to a ring that year with an injured Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc grabbing his back, but they ran the offense. They moved the ball.

Kobe didn't do that, much, this year. And the offensive stats don't lie. If he keeps pushing on his own terms, the Lakers will lose. Because as brilliant as he is, this is a team game. This game needs five players, on either side, working together. And when the going gets tough, Kobe doesn't work well with others. He never has. And despite all his tough-guy talk, this isn't something to admire.

So there's your offseason challenge, Los Angeles. It's not about making waves on the wire about your latest MLE hire. It's not draft-day rumors about Andrew Bynum. It's not about Tracy McGrady. It's not about a lame soap opera to keep you interested.

It's coming from within. If Kobe realizes what he has, then the Lakers will win again. If he goes about it his own way, at age 32, then the Lakers could fall short.

They shouldn't, but if this team keeps up with the jump shots, they probably will.

It'll take a bit of an attitude adjustment. Big summer for navel gazing, y'all.

Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports Blog
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