Just like that, the Los Angeles Lakers' once promising season has come to a screeching close. While we could reminisce on what was and consider what could have been, there is just one sentiment worth feeling...
With Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant performing at an All-NBA level, it's hard to imagine the Lakers remaining down for long. In order to make sure of this tandem going further in 2013, however, there are some alterations to be made.
Here are the six moves the Los Angeles Lakers must make.
The Los Angeles Lakers have received some quality minutes from a young 3 by the name of Devin Ebanks. If they believe themselves to be the only team who has taken notice of the 22-year-old's contributions, however, they're fooling themselves.
Which is exactly why they must re-sign Ebanks before he slips away.
At 6'9", the former West Virginia Mountaineer possesses size and length that the average 3 cannot compare to. He's also a solid athlete, an intelligent decision-maker, stout defender and admirable rebounder. His solid, although inconsistent, performances against the Denver Nuggets are evidence enough of his upside.
Considering Matt Barnes is also hitting free agency, and Metta World Peace isn't too far from goodbye, either, Ebanks should become a top priority. The Lakers' ability or failure to re-sign Ebanks will set the tone for all else.
Season Averages: 16.5 MPG—8.35 PER—4.0 PPG—2.3 RPG—41.6 FG%
Postseason Averages: 13.8 MPG—4.4 PPG—2.5 RPG—42.9 FG%
The Los Angeles Lakers have long been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA, with their best long-distance shooters going by the names of Steve Blake and Troy Murphy. In other words, there is no chance of the Lakers improving in that department without bringing in a new cast.
This one will be difficult, as Terry has been a rival of the Lakers for years, but there's no better man for the job. Terry is a solid enough ball handler to play as a point guard in a bigger lineup, and of course, would be the best possible Sixth Man for the Lakers.
Terry is a dream signing with a championship ring that needs a bit of company.
Season Averages: 31.7 MPG—15.80 PER—15.1 PPG—3.6 APG—2.4 RPG—1.2 SPG—37.8 3PT%
Postseason Averages: 34.8 MPG—13.8 PPG—3.8 APG—2.3 RPG—50.0 3PT%
The Los Angeles Lakers are the victims of two consecutive postseason let-downs. While Metta World Peace's defense cannot be blamed for such shortcomings, his offensive output certainly can be.
While some might look at percentages and point totals, it's important to watch MWP play. He's often over-dribbling, winding down the entirety of a shot clock and throwing up wild jump shots.
In Game 4 and Game 5 combined, World Peace hit the side of the backboard twice and threw up four air balls.
Yet he puts up roughly 10 shot attempts per contest. And gets himself suspended for irrational actions.
But who would take him? That's the greatest hurdle in pulling this miracle deal off.
Season Averages: 26.9 MPG—11.03 PER—7.7 PPG—3.4 RPG—2.2 APG—1.1 SPG—39.4 FG%
Postseason Averages: 39.2 MPG—11.7 PPG—3.5 RPG—2.3 APG—2.2 SPG—36.6 FG%
This hinges on the Lakers' ability to trade Metta World Peace.
The Los Angeles Lakers came within a hair of trading for Michael Beasley, on one... Wait, two different occasions. Now that the Lakers can acquire Beasley with nothing but money standing in their way, it's hard to imagine they'll refrain from doing so.
The likelihood of Minnesota matching any offers for Beasley is slim to none considering their treatment of the embattled star in 2012. This opens the door for the Lakers to replace both Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks with Beasley, a versatile offensive force who put up 19.9 points per game in 2011.
This will only occur should the Lakers orchestrate some monetary-driven trades, but don't think that won't occur.
Season Averages: 23.1 MPG—13.11 PER—11.5 PPG—4.4 RPG—1.0 APG—37.6 3PT%
In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Jordan Hill has been phenomenal.
Despite seeing an average of just 19.2 minutes per game, Hill has posted two double-doubles, three games with double-digit rebounds, two games with multiple blocks and just three games with less than six rebounds. Not too shabby for the guy who the Lakers wasted Derek Fisher and a draft pick on acquiring.
As free agency hits the Lakers' mind, the first player they should think of acquiring or re-signing should be Hill. His effort has been contagious, leading to a raised level of play by the players around him. This is something the Lakers must preserve as they have a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year on their roster.
A long-term deal should be expected.
Season Averages: 14.2 MPG—5.0 PPG—4.8 RPG—0.7 BPG—16.17 RP48
Postseason Averages: 19.2 MPG—5.0 PPG—6.7 RPG—0.7 BPG—16.48 RP48
The Los Angeles Lakers have the most dynamic front line in the NBA, pairing rising star Andrew Bynum with supposed star Pau Gasol. The issue is, Pau Gasol has backed down from the spotlight in three consecutive postseasons. To replace the underachieving big man, a trade is the only rational option.
The Houston Rockets no longer have the valuable trade pieces they once possessed, but they're far from the only team who would be interested in Gasol.
With both Devin Ebanks and Matt Barnes hitting free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers could use a new 3 of the future. Metta World Peace is more of a headache than a solution, which makes a potential deal with the Chicago Bulls a certain possibility.
Regardless of where he goes, Pau Gasol is a very expensive weak link. Great player, just not a great fit.
Season Averages: 37.4 MPG—17.4 PPG—10.4 RPG—3.7 APG—1.4 BPG—50.1 FG%
Postseason Averages: 36.4 MPG—12.5 PPG—9.3 RPG—3.7 APG—2.1 BPG—43.3 FG%