No franchise is in need of a superstar more than the Los Angeles Lakers, and in a league controlled by superstars, it always appears the Lakers find one. The 2012-2013 roster will feature the point guard L.A. fans have long waited for. The roster will be a mixture of something old and something new.
The last two seasons, the Lakers have been the biggest team on the floor, but they have no postseason success to show for it. Management tipped their hand this preseason when they shipped Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom and tested warrior Pau Gasol for point guard Chris Paul.
When David Stern voided that deal, there was no way for L.A. to convince the NBA world they were content with their point guard situation.
After receiving the ultimate boobie prize in Ramon Sessions, there is little doubt Los Angeles is in the market for a true floor general. The perception is that the Lakers are stretched to the limit and it will be
difficult for them to make a move, but this is the Lakers.
Yes, Los Angeles has some difficult contracts to move, but since when did difficult mean impossible?
Armed with no first-round picks and the league’s third-highest payroll, things will be tough. However, that is the difference between L.A. and the rest—Los Angeles always gets it done.
Aside from their glaring need at point guard, the Lakers must get younger and faster. They have tried the “we are bigger” approach, and it has not worked. L.A. must find a way to keep their size but gain some youth and energy.
For years, the Lakers have been “Emperors of the League” because their superstars were merely superior to those they faced. Unlike any other sports franchise, the Lakers have found a way to acquire the established star and pair him with above-average role players.
It is this mixture of George Mikan and Slater Martin or Happy Hairston and Wilt Chamberlain or Magic Johnson and AC Green or Shaquille O’Neal and Robert Horry or Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.
It is that perfect blend of heart, determination and elevation of each player that has brought about multiple championships. It is that fusion of knowledge and will that they are seeking today.
These are the players who will bring L.A. its next title.
Blake is still a valuable asset who will plays hard and practices hard. He was asked to do entirely to much last season, now playing in an abbreviated role Blake should be an asset to the club.
His experience will benefit the club in close games, but most of all he will not be called upon every game, which quite frankly Blake is not built for.
The Lakers wanted Hill and traded longtime Laker gamer Derek Fisher at the trade deadline to acquire him. Hill is athletic and tough. The Atlanta native will be a quality big coming off the bench and can be relied upon to give everything he has.
One aspect of Hill's game that he has yet to exploit is shot-blocking. The forward has good instincts and timing and could be a good shot-blocker if he trusted those instincts more. Either way the Lakers have a good young big here and one thing Head Coach Mike Brown do is develop bigs.
Now Hill does have a team option next year and the Lakers may choose to let him walk for salary reasons, but that seems unlikely based on what they gave up to get Hill.
Salmons is a versatile player who can play the point, off guard or small forward. He can score in any offense and has a high basketball I.Q. Salmons' problem throughout his career has been consistency. The former Miami Hurricane does not play the score so if the Lakers are up by 20 or down by 30 you are going to get the same effort.
Most of all, Salmons is low-maintenance player who will find a way to be productive when could upon. His contract will replace Metta World Peace's contract, but his play off the bench will prove to be a viable cog in the Laker championship and is capable of starting a few games if needed.
Originally this spot was reserved for Landry Fields, and Fields may be an option, but Ebanks can play.
Ebanks plays the game, not the score, meaning you will always get maximum effort form this young man.
He has a good feel for the game and rarely gets caught out of position.
Ebanks also would come for another modest $3 million a year deal (if that) and would play hard every night.
The slender forward is not a three-point shooter but would bring some athleticism to the 3 spot. Playing alongside a true point guard will give Ebanks plenty of easy scoring opportunities, either in transition or with alley-oops.
This will build the young man's confidence, and he should be a pleasant surprise for Lakers fans.
The Bean returns for what feels like his 57th season.
The Spaniard returns for his final two seasons.
Yes, Gasol is older, but his game has always been skill over strength, so it is not far-fetched to believe Gasol will continue to play at a high level in his old age.
The decision to keep Gasol is more about value.
There is no power forward available who has the championship experience and skill set of Gasol.
The seven-footer has played well in big games, and Los Angeles does not win two titles without him. Trading him away and not getting a star in return would be asinine for L.A.
The man Lakers fans have been clamoring for.
It appeared at one point Williams was going to stay in Brooklyn and was going to be joined by Dwight Howard. Oh, how things have changed.
When David Stern vetoed the CP3 deal, he had no idea he would help the Lakers return to prominence by ensuring they get D-Will.
Williams will bring true point guard instincts to the floor. Despite what has transpired in New Jersey, Williams is a pass-first guard who can play isolation or pick-and-roll.
The guard is capable of making the spectacular play as well as the simple post pass. He also is not afraid of Kobe and will stay within the team’s offense, thus ensuring Gasol at least touches the ball.
Williams will make sure players get in places where they are successful. In short, he will be a point guard, and he is the best in the game at the position.
Simply put, point guards are like pretty women—they make everyone look better.
While it is obvious to most basketball fans that the Lakers do not need Dwight Howard, it should be more than apparent that at some point they wanted him.
However, after news of Dwight’s off-the-court issues and the fiasco that we all witnessed this season, it would be a stretch for L.A. to still be interested and ready to invest long term in Howard.
Los Angeles will be faced with a difficult decision with Andrew Bynum on whether to keep the big man and give him the $20 million per year he will request or trade him now.
After the regular season Bynum had, his value will be sky high, but the Lakers organization has been around enough quality big men to know Bynum is not of that ilk.
The Jersey native is good, but he is not a champion.
The opportunity to get younger and deeper while adding the best point guard in the game will give the purple and gold enough incentive to make the move.
After years of saying no to numerous trades, the Lakers make the move many have been waiting for and trade Andrew Bynum to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade.
Sacramento Kings Get...
Center Brook Lopez (17.4 points per and 7.5 rebounds per)
New Jersey Nets’ 2013 and 2014 first-round picks (top three protected)
Sacramento Makes This Deal Because...
It allows them to start over as they try to move to a new arena. The Kings have not won with Evans as their leader and have let it be known they will listen to offers.
Kings President Geoff Petrie has a history of dealing players for quality big men. He traded Mitch Richmond for then-troubled but talented big man Chris Webber. The Kings have experienced problems with Cousins and will be faced with the decision of signing him to a long-term deal next offseason.
The opportunity to bring Fresno native Brook Lopez back to the area where he played his high school ball and secure a possible top-10 pick to go along with the pick the Kings already have will be tough to pass up.
The deal will be sealed once the Nets agree to send cash to the money-strapped Kings.
L.A. Lakers Get...
Power Forward DeMarcus Cousins (15. 9 points per and 9.7 rebounds per)
Point Guard Deron Williams (17.6 point per and 9.2 assists per)
Guard/Forward John Salmons (10.0 points per and 3.1 rebounds per)
Los Angeles Makes This Deal Because...
It gets them the point guard they have so desperately needed. This also allows L.A. to compete for titles in the Western Conference for the next four years, which will be the duration of Williams’ contract. Lost in the chants of “trade everyone” is the Lakers would like to rebuild at some point without losing.
With two years remaining on both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s contract, it makes very little sense for the Lakers to extend Bynum, who has already exhibited injury and focus issues.
In three years, LA would have $48.6 million in cap space available and a top-five point guard to come play with.
The Lakers do take back a bad contract in John Salmons, but he will provide much-needed athleticism and scoring to the Lakers' bench.
This deal places the Lakers back into legitimate title contention by allowing them to defend opposing teams' point guards and play either a half-court game or uptempo. The thinking is Los Angeles cannot get Williams, which is false.
In short, Williams gets the same amount of money if he signs straight up with a team versus if he does a sign-and-trade. So once the guard did not re-sign with Brooklyn, he made it known he was willing to take less money to leave.
The Lakers' payroll last season was roughly $86,342,229, which put them third in the league. An addition of Williams combined with the subtraction of Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace, based on the 4.5 percent raise Williams is entitled, would put the Lakers right around that amount next year.
Still, there is a chance they could be lowered because NBA contracts sometimes stagger and are not done on average. Either way, L.A. would not be over extending itself to add Williams and would recoup any luxury tax penalties in playoff and road sales revenue.
Brooklyn Nets Get...
Point Guard Tyreke Evans (18.2 points per and 5.3 assists per)
Center Andrew Bynum (11.7 points per and 7.8 rebounds per)
Forward Metta World Peace (14.2 points per and 4.7 rebounds per)
Forward Francisco Garcia (8.6 points per and 2.8 rebounds per)
New Jersey Makes This Deal Because...
They have wanted a star to rebuild around and need to generate hype as they move to Brooklyn.
Nets general manager Billy King is very familiar with former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans based on his time with 76ers and Evans being born in raised just 15 minutes away in Chester, PA.
The chance to add North Jersey native Andrew Bynum and Queens native Metta World Peace to a lineup featuring a young gunner would give Brooklyn the cache the desperately seek.
This deal makes Brooklyn at the very least a real playoff contender. In a division that features a rebuilding Boston and sporadic the Knicks, Brooklyn can entertain the thoughts of winning their division.
Cousins is not coming to the Lakers to be a star—he is coming to be their starting center. The 6’11" power forward should not have a problem switching to center.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is tough, can score inside and, most of all, is under contract for just two more seasons at $8.7 million. The second year is a team option and runs parallel with the end of both Bryant and Gasol’s contract.
DeMarcus has been questioned since he entered the league, but would flourish under head coach Mike Brown, who is one of the best big men teachers in the game going back to his San Antonio Malik Rose and Tim Duncan days.