Stuck in Reverse: Who Can Help the Los Angeles Lakers?
Many names have been tossed around during the offseason as potential players to arrive in Purple and Gold. Point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard have been the primary two targets of Lakers management.
Unfortunately, after having their deal with New Orleans shut down by David Stern for "basketball reasons," new head coach Mike Brown and his fellow Lakers watched as Paul was sent to the Clippers. This not only created a new heated rivalry for the first time in decades in LA, but also caused the departure of one of the Lakers current stars.
Yes, we all know Lamar Odom's reasons for wanting out of LA were a bit shallow, but never the less he's gone for practically nothing and now wearing a Dallas Mavericks uniform.
The Lakers then resumed their pursuit of Howard before Orlando's general manager, Otis Smith, shut down all potential offers, saying they were going to wait and see what happens.
So here the Lakers are, sitting on an $8.9 million trade exception and no true bench production. It doesn't help the fact that the entire roster is trying to learn a new system on both sides of the floor and superstar Kobe Bryant is battling a significant injury to his shooting hand.
But the Lakers sit at 10-6 after surviving a tough stretch with four 40-point games from Bryant. Now on the back end of back-to-back games against Miami and Orlando, questions have really begun to circulate about what the Lakers need to return to power.
Their defense is championship worthy and Brown will continue to work tirelessly to improve it. But offensively, the Lakers look completely lost. Outside of Bryant, they have no other creative mind and their three-point shooting has been absolutely dreadful as they sit dead last in the league in shooting behind the arc.
Losing backup point guard Steve Blake doesn't help the situation as he was finally coming to his own with the second unit and really getting into a rhythm with his shot.
But there are a plethora of options open for the Lakers, including pursing Howard. But is Howard really the only solution? Can bringing in the three-time Defensive Player of the Year really push the Lakers back to perennial title contenders?
No. The Lakers already have a proven All-Star in Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum has really exploded onto the scene thus far this season.
What the Lakers really need is another creative mind to play with the second unit. Let's face it, Metta World Peace isn't going to create many open looks for his teammates.
Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy, though solid backups won't create for others either and Blake is basically a younger version of Derek Fisher on this team.
But barring from some miraculous trade that completely rebuilds the roster, what can the Lakers do?
Well, though many think he has nothing left in the tank, Gilbert Arenas is sitting at home awaiting a phone call.
Arenas obviously isn't his old self any more after his short stint in Orlando. But, he is still a quality player and when motivated can produce and create for his teammates.
The talent level is there, but the risk is personality. Would Arenas actually accept a role off the bench in LA? Sure he'd be the leader of the second unit alongside World Peace and Blake, but would he actually be willing to be the creative mind that the Lakers so desperately need?
He's a perfect candidate however, because at this moment he's just dying to get back on the court and at 28 still has a few good years left on his surgically repaired legs.
Also, bringing in Arenas still leaves open the possibility of creating a trade for Howard which could really turn the tide in a truly competitive Western Conference.
Arenas is waiting, will the Lakers take the risk?
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