So you're comfortable with your Lakers, Mitch Kupchak? No need to make any moves and shake up the defending champs' roster? You like LA's length? You like your odds of repeating? Not me, and many outside of Southern California would agree.
It's beginning to look like this year's version of the purple and gold won't even make it out of the Western Conference playoffs. That's right, there are a few teams that stand a better chance of facing off with the likes of LeBron, KG, or Dwight Howard. One of them rolled over the listless Lakers tonight, turning the fourth quarter into a comedy act.
The Lake Show put on a slapstick routine for its home date with the Nuggets. If only it were funny. Denver managed to run the Lakers dry with injured star Carmelo Anthony sitting out the lopsided road win.
LA stayed with sharp-shooting Nuggets for a half, then as happens all too often this season, Phil Jackson sat his hobbled superstar, Kobe Bryant, and watched his small lead disappear faster than a coin in magician David Blaine's hand. Poof, it was gone!
Like magic, LA was down by double digits, and the amazing Bryant wasn't able to rescue his team this time around. There are only so many heroic escapes in a guy's sore ankles. There are only so many last second shots in his broken fingers. This time, his Lakers were embarrassed in their own house, and no one in the building, including Kobe, appeared to have any answers.
It's apparent that Jackson wants others in LA's lineup to step up, and it just isn't happening on a regular basis. Sure, the Lakers manage to pick off the Celtics in Boston and hold off those pesky Bobcats, but against the likes of Denver, San Antonio, and, oh my God, Portland in Portland, they look helpless. This season, you can feel the losses coming on, and once the team's play starts sliding, there is no stopping it.
All of the confidence built on last season's success won't lead the Lakers to another NBA title. For whatever reason, LA's chemistry just isn't quite right this year (call it the loss of Ariza if you like, but it's more than that). The team has been good enough to win 38 games, but unable to beat pushovers like the Memphis Grizzlies and even its Staples Center roommates, the Clippers, on a given night.
Despite it all, management still appears convinced that everything will turn out right in the end. It won't. The stars are not aligning for LA in 2010, and it doesn't take a horoscope or fortune teller to see a long summer in the team's near future.
That is why Mitch needs to rethink his position on bolstering the lineup with a trade. The engine is broke, and it damn well needs fixing. The Lakers need to cobble together a deal that brings in fresh blood before it's too late. There's no need for a total transfusion of talent, but a Kirk Hinrich or another quality player with the desire to win could jump start this sputtering team.
Of course if it were simple, anyone could be an NBA GM. It isn't easy balancing salaries and team chemistry. There is certainly risk involved in making any kind of personnel move. Yet, after tonight's big let-down in la town, it's time for Kupchak to rethink his stance and pull the trigger on a trade that breaths some life into his lifeless Lakers.
It says here that if Mitch doesn't make a move, and he and the rest of LA are watching Denver or San Antonio in the NBA Finals come June.