The Los Angeles Lakers made several moves last season. Were they the right ones?
After back-to-back NBA championships, the Lakers have found themselves bounced in the Western Conference Semifinals in two straight seasons.
Kobe Bryant isn’t getting any younger, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum aren’t getting any more athletic.
So where does this team turn?
Before we’re able to get into future necessities, we must first look at the personnel decisions made this past season.
What did the team get right? What did the Lakers do wrong?
Here is an assessment of L.A.’s front office over the course of the 2011-12 season.
Mike Brown didn’t offer a ton as head coach of the Lakers and he didn’t detract. Mike Brown really is the perfect coach for today’s NBA—he realizes it’s a players’ game.
In Los Angeles, he deferred to Kobe Bryant.
It’s hard to pin any wins or losses on Brown.
He’s there, but his effect is minimal. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Unless you like middle-of-the-road players who don’t offer much, Jason Kapono was a waste of a roster spot.
Only once in his 27 appearances this year did he play 20 or more minutes. In that game, he scored 5 points on 2-of-6 shooting with no rebounds, one assist and two fouls.
Kapono is less than a role player.
At one point in his career, he was a good off-the-bench three-point shooter. But he has not shot better than .400 from beyond the arc since 2009.
Kapono doesn’t offer a whole lot at this point in his career.
If you look at this trade as addition by subtraction, it may be the Lakers’ biggest add of the season.
Lamar Odom was downright bad for Dallas this year. The versatile 6’10” forward averaged 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
That isn’t good.
It appears Odom was too caught up in his reality television persona to worry about what made him a reality TV figure: Basketball.
The game that made him big time has taken a back seat in his life. The Lakers did right to remove Odom from their roster.
The Los Angeles Lakers got great per-36-minute production from 6’10” forward Josh McRoberts.
But they paid far too much for that production.
At $3 million per year, the Lakers should expect to get more than 14 minutes per game.
However, in those 14 minutes, L.A. got solid production from McRoberts. He averaged 2.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, which equates to 6.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
But with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol ahead of him on the depth chart, McRoberts did not see a lot of minutes. That lack of minutes should result in a lack of money.
A salary of $3 million is too much to pay for 718 minutes over the course of a season.
This goes down as one of the most curious trades of the season.
On the one hand, the Lakers got rid of the NBA’s worst starting point guard of 2011-12.
During his time as L.A.’s starter this season, Derek Fisher struggled big time. He shot .383 from the field, averaged fewer than six points per game, couldn’t play defense and didn’t make the big pass. For the first 43 games of the season, he was the worst starting point guard in the NBA.
But tossing in a first-round pick for Jordan Hill doesn’t make sense.
Los Angeles rid itself of future talent for a backup point guard who put up as pedestrian numbers as Fisher.
The only thing that keeps this deal from getting a lesser grade is the door it opened for…
Los Angeles significantly upgraded at point guard by adding Ramon Sessions. This trade, in combination with the Fisher deal, boosted the Lakers’ lineup.
Sessions instantly upgraded the Lakers offense. He was a more efficient scorer, better distributor and scarier three-point threat.
In the meantime, L.A. got rid of a washed-up Jason Kapono and a clueless and useless Luke Walton.
The only thing that keeps this pick from being an A is the Lakers gave up the No. 24 pick in this year’s draft. In as deep a draft as 2012 offers, that could be a valuable pick.
Andrew Bynum is the second-best center in the NBA. Right now, Dwight Howard is the only one better.
Motivation has been the biggest question mark hanging high over the tall head of Bynum.
It comes down to one question: How good does he want to be?
The answer will surprise Bynum doubters—he wants to be good.
Bynum is just scraping his ceiling.
If the Lakers let him escape, they’d be kicking themselves as he powered through them in the 2013 playoffs.
This, so far, has been the best move for the organization in the 2011-12 season.