My mother used to tell me to never put all of my eggs in one basket, and that might be some advice that the Los Angeles Lakers could use, as they wait for point guard Steve Nash to return from a leg injury and save the Lakers' season—and possibly the franchise.
Most of the Lakers' 9-10 start has been attributed to Nash's absence and the inability of the team to get a true feel for the offense that Nash will eventually direct, and most of the Lakers' other struggles also fall under that theory.
Forward Pau Gasol is struggling because he needs Nash to help him find his way in the offense. Dwight Howard is struggling because he has yet to be introduced to Nash's awesome potential in the pick-and-roll. And head coach Mike D'Antoni is struggling because Nash is the only guard who can truly run his offense.
It seems like an awful lot is riding on Nash's successful return, and while I admit that the Lakers offense, which has looked potent at times, can sure use the consistency and rhythm that Nash will provide, I'm not sold on the idea of Nash as a savior.
According to a report by ESPN.com, the Lakers may have painted themselves in a corner by refusing to entertain overtures for Gasol until he has a chance to establish chemistry with Nash, and the Lakers ability to re-sign Howard to a long-term deal may be linked to how the rest of the Lakers' season plays out.
What fewer people have been willing to suggest is the fact that Gasol might just be a bad fit for D'Antoni's offense.
D'Antoni's Phoenix teams were successful because they primarily used one post player (Amare Stoudemire) to initiate the pick-and-roll with Nash, and the other post player usually had range that extended beyond the three-point line.
Even though Gasol is currently struggling through tendinitis in both knees, he would never be a consistent threat from the three-point line when healthy, and it has become apparent that there are issues surrounding the idea of Gasol and Howard coexisting in the paint.
One of the reasons why D'Antoni is a NBA coach is because he gets paid to make adjustments when his primary strategies fail, but so far, his only adjustment seems to be waiting until Nash gets back.
Nash's return will not make Gasol more comfortable playing away from the rim, and unfortunately, Gasol's struggles are actually the least of the Lakers' problems.
What happens if D'Antoni is not able to find a place for Gasol in the offense once Nash returns, and the Lakers are unable to move him at a later date?
Well, nothing if Nash proves to be the answer to D'Antoni's prayers. But if he isn't, how do the Lakers convince Howard to stay past this season?
Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol?
The Lakers do have the right to exceed any offer to Howard, but money didn't keep him in Orlando, and while the average person may weigh the advantages of finishing a career in Los Angeles, nothing thatt Howard has done the past two seasons suggests that he thinks like the average person.
If the Lakers' gamble on Nash fails, then D'Antoni's stint in Los Angeles will be considered a failure as well, and the good feelings and words of encouragement surrounding Gasol will probably be out the door as well.
But the ultimate loss would be Howard refusing to re-sign with the Lakers, especially when you consider that most of their previously applauded moves in the offseason were designed with the long-term vision of Howard being the cornerstone of the future.
Is blind faith in Nash and Gasol really worth losing Howard?
Maybe there is a chance that Gasol can find a re-birth under Nash, the Lakers begin firing on all cylinders, and Showtime finally returns to the City of Angels.
Right now, that thought is probably the only one that Lakers fans will allow themselves to see, because the alternative is far more painful.