NBA Playoffs 2012: Embarrassing Loss Proves Lakers Need a Major Overhaul
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They knew all the way back in December they needed someone else, someone younger and fresher, to help carry them to success this season and they never found him.
Kobe Bryant averaged his most points per game since the 2007-2008 season, and there were times where it seemed he was literally the only player on the floor for L.A.
It's safe to say Pau Gasol, who averaged all of 12.5 points per game this postseason, has played his last game in purple and gold.
Gasol's 2012 performance, which included the lowest points-per-game average of his career as he was relegated to the third option in the offense, was more damaging to his stock than helpful, but the Lakers will still find a taker somewhere in the league (Houston, Chicago and Minnesota immediately come to mind).
Kobe is the only player guaranteed to return because his contract is absurd.
Andrew Bynum, who flashed brilliance and even played like the best center in the league at times this season, is immature and inconsistent.
The Lakers have the opportunity to simply pick up the young center's team option and see what type of value he holds on the market, or they can extend him if they want—he's no lock to stay in L.A. long term, though.
Ramon Sessions has a player option, but it remains to be seen what his role will be after underwhelming as a starter since his trade from Cleveland. Is Sessions the answer when the Lakers could make a run at someone like, say, Jeremy Lin?
Aside from the Lakers' starting five, six of their bench players are slated to hit free agency as well.
It wouldn't be surprising at all if none of them were to return.
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Mike Brown is unlikely to go anywhere, but knows he has only one more year to make something of himself.
We can expect Bynum back for 2012-2013 alongside Kobe, but all bets are off for everyone else. Gasol will fetch something in return—possibly even a draft pick in 2012—and the Lakers will do everything they can to land Kobe another superstar to run with.
At 33 years old, and 16 seasons deep in the league, Kobe cannot be the only guy on the floor for a team anymore. He needs help, and the Lakers should do everything possible to overhaul the roster this summer.
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