Dwight Howard or Bust: Why the L.A. Lakers Are in More Trouble Than You Know
At what point are we just going to accept the indisputable truth that's made itself abundantly clear since midway through the 2010-11 season?
As it is now, this Lakers team is without hope. Done. Dead. Finito.
They have become too old, too slow and are completely devoid of a reliable second or third option on offense.
Anyone willing to argue this has either been living under a rock or is living in the past.
The utter lack of depth plaguing the Lakers' roster and their godawful guard situation has long been threatening to tear this team apart at the seams—and that was before the Lakers lost both of their most offensively gifted bench players, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, for absolutely nothing at all.
In fact, very little the Lakers have done in the last calendar year has made sense on any level.
The hiring of Mike Brown over a more seasoned and respected Rick Adelman was the first warning. Next were departures of Odom and Brown.
Now we've got Jim Buss wrecking what could easily be the Lakers' last hope, scoffing at the idea of a potential trade of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard, calling the notion "silly."
That's how you know you've got a damn fool running the show.
Any owner with half a brain would know that since Howard and Bynum wouldn't fit on the same team anyway, the trade would amount to cutting ties with the slumping Gasol to upgrade Bynum into a far better center on both ends of the floor.
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Gasol has only totaled double digit rebounds in three of his previous twelve games dating back to last season.
The sky high offensive efficiency that was once a large part of what made him so valuable is long gone, and simply put, he has not made a significant difference in any game in recent memory.
But we're willing to keep this guy and Andrew Bynum, who despite his All-Star potential, misses almost as many games as he plays, over the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for the last three straight seasons?
We're talking about Dwight Howard, a player who can take over a game before he scores his first 10 points, a player who can sleepwalk his way to grabbing double digit rebounds, a player who can drop 40 on any given night and convert about 60 percent of his attempts in the process, a player who's missed about as many games as Karl "Mailman" Malone had at this point in his own career.
How can Jim Buss not see any of this? At 31 years old, it's not even as though Gasol fits into any tangible long-term plans. At 26, Dwight Howard easily could.
Not only would he add tremendous explosiveness to a roster that's quickly becoming anything but, the fact that he doesn't demand or require the ball nearly as much as Orlando's last iconic center would make him a perfect complement to Kobe Bryant.
I have yet to hear a decent reason not to pull the trigger on this deal. The Lakers' whopping total of zero wins in their previous six games means that something needs to change.
Or we could keep making excuses.
Sure, those statements have some legitimacy to them, but I remember the days when the Lakers would make improvements instead of excuses. Maybe those days are over.
Maybe Jim Buss really is dense enough to facilitate the crumbling of the empire that his father built just to make a lasting imprint on the team.
The one thing I can say in defense of Lakers management is that they were trying to make a move that would bring in Chris Paul and had even succeeded before bumbling NBA commissioner David Stern killed the trade at the behest of whining owners like Dan Gilbert.
But hey, what can you do? When a guy like Gilbert speaks, we should all listen. After all, he's been so successful running his own franchise, right?
Well, despite Stern and Co.'s buffoonish meddling, there is no excuse for the Lakers entering yet another season starting Derek Fisher at the point.
It was one thing when the Lakers' roster was head and shoulders better than practically everyone else's,but those days are firmly in the past. With Fisher getting older and slower and the real NBA contenders getting faster and more athletic, starting a sub-par, old point guard with mediocre passing skills and all the speed of a dial-up Internet connection is suicide.
Yet, there are those who still believe that this Lakers team can contend. They point to the 2009 and 2010 championship banners as proof of this team's ability.
I'm sure someone in Detroit said something similar a few years ago.
They stood pat for years to give the unit that won the 2004 title a shot at getting another. They came close in '05, falling in Game 7 of the Finals but were never able to return again.
Within a few seasons, all that was left of their roster were leftovers, players that were a shell of their former selves.
Moral of the story: When your roster is on the decline, you don't wait until the bottom has entirely fallen out before you right the ship. By then it's too late.
I enjoyed watching the Lakers' championship campaigns as much as anyone, and I thank everyone that contributed, but these Lakers aren't those Lakers. Heartfelt loyalty and appreciation aside, mistaking them could cause the downfall of the franchise.
In Terminator Salvation, John Connor famously screamed at his incompetent superiors, "If we stay the course, we are all dead!"
For the Lakers' sake, hopefully someone is saying something like that to Jim Buss.
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