The 2008-2009 NBA season is part of the past now. The crowning of a new champion was the end result of that season.
The Los Angeles Lakers set themselves apart from the rest of the league by winning the coveted Larry O'Brien trophy last NBA season.
The Lakers are once again on the hunt, cementing themselves as one of the main championship contenders. But being championship contenders doesn't necessarily mean that the Lakers will automatically accomplish the rare feat of a repeat.
During this offseason, I have come up with certainties and uncertainties of the Lakers coming into next season.
The Lakers' strengths and weaknesses. Their positives and negatives.
The Lakers front office acquired Ron Artest from the Houston Rockets this offseason for a five-year deal that is worth around $33 million.
Artest provides the Lakers elite perimeter defense that won him his lone Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004.
For the Lakers, this means that Kobe Bryant does not have to focus part of his energy guarding the opponents best shooting guard or small forward. Kobe can now spend his time roaming defensively and leading the Lakers complicated offense while having enough energy to take over in the fourth quarter if he is needed.
With Artest's intimidating personality in the defensive end and Kobe's hope-killing shooting and demeanor, the Lakers truly got the better end of this deal.
Trevor Ariza will be missed, but Artest will be welcomed with open-arms.
Ron-Ron is a positive.
Re-signing Lamar Odom was the best move the Lakers has done during this offseason.
Though he can sometimes disappear during games last season and the season before, Odom is best suited to play for the Lakers.
He took a blow to his pride during last season when he came off playing for the bench, taking the role of the Lakers' Sixth Man.
During that season, Odom became Andrew Bynum's insurance. Odom started for the Lakers half way through the '08-'09 season after Bynum suffered another injury.
He thrived as a starter, but was also understanding when Bynum took over his spot as a starter once again during that season's post season.
Lamar was once again needed when Bynum became a foul magnet during the post season. Odom acknowledged his supporting role and flat out produced for the Lakers in the offensive and defensive end. He ended the '08-'09 post season averaging 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Expect Odom to give the Lakers Sixth Man worthy numbers once again during next season's play.
Odom is a positive.
The Lakers recently lost a key member to their championship team, Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson's successor. But, the Lakers still have the most successful coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson.
Jackson is truely a coach of champions; coaching both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Phil has a total of ten championship and has mastered the art of the complicated, yet effective triangle offense.
Phil has the chance to be the first coach in NBA history to wear a toe ring.
Phil is certainly a positive.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
The on court chemistry between Kobe and Pau is second to none in this league. This duo is making a name for themselves amongst the all-time great duos of the NBA.
Since Pau has joined forces with Kobe, they have not lost a Western Conference title and has won an NBA championship in only two seasons together. Unlike the great duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, where the two of them are still ringless.
During last season, this duo averaged 45.7 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game.
Expect the best from these two.
Kobe and Pau equals championship success.
This article about Vujacic tells it best. He has simply lost his shooting touch.
His jump shot is as erratic and sporadic as his defense. The Lakers just can't depend on Sasha to provide a few good minutes of play while Kobe rest his legs.
During last season, Sasha averaged a poor 5.8 points per game shooting a below-average 38.7 percent from the field.
He might turn it around next season, but for now he is a "machine" with low batteries. He needs to find his touch once again and finally start living up to his self-proclaimed name of the "Machine".
Till that day, the "Machine" is a negative.
Injuries is part of every contact sport. Basketball is not an exception.
Last season, the Lakers' injury list included Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, and Sun Yue.
Bynum's NBA career has been injury filled. It's a good thing that the Lakers have Lamar because Bynum has not showed that he can play a full eighty-two game season.
Andrew shows great potential, he even has the chance to become an All-Star next season. But if he has another injury plagued season, he will be more of a negative than a positive to me.
Also, the most recent injury the Lakers have right now during this offseason is with Pau. It's a minor finger injury that is expected to be fully healed in three weeks.
Though it's minor, I'm hoping it's not a bad omen for Pau and the Lakers coming into next season. An omen full of injury.
Injuries are a negative.
The Lakers team is getting older, an inevitable thing.
Kobe is thirty, fastly approaching thirty-one. Lamar, Artest, and Pau are twenty-nine, while Derek Fisher just turned thirty-five.
Being old has its perks. Their basketball I.Q. is higher and their more calm in final second games.
But the older players athleticism is not as sharp as they used to be, the same with their endurance.
Due to this, the Lakers only has a one to three year window left where they can utilize Kobe's innate ability.
Aging is a downer, that's why since the beginning of time people has been looking for ways to negate it's effects.
The Lakers are in a good place right now. They have gotten the taste of success last season making them more hungrier to win it back next season.
If they can stay away from the negatives listed and hone the positives, they will be in good shape.
To say the Lakers will repeat next season would be foolish on my part, but to say the Lakers don't have a chance at repeating would also be foolish.
Is it October 27th yet?