This time last year in Lakerland, everyone was wondering if Kobe was going to stay or go to another team (i.e. Chicago or New York). Now I'm not saying that this offseason has been as tumultuous as last year's but it certainly does have its problems...and it hasn't been the first time.
It looks like Ronny Turiaf will be playing in the Oakland area next year for a less than average Warrior team. Once again Mitch Kupchak has screwed up. Ronny was one of the most energetic players coming off the bench and considerably improved since the previous season.
He raised his scoring average from 5.3 to 6.2, increased his rebounds from 3.6 to 3.9, his assists from 0.9 to 1.6, and did all of this with only 19 minutes of playing time while having no plays run for him.
Ronny also energized the crowd with his presence as well as his play. When he entered the game the crowd knew that they were going to get someone who was excited to be in the game and was going to give it 100 percent each and every time. That is something that cannot be taught.
And Mitch was just going to let this all go? I know that the Warriors offered him more than the Lakers can afford, but why didn't the Lakers offer him something sooner? Why did the Lakers just sit and do nothing?
I understand that the Lakers will have Andrew Bynum back and Pau will be playing the power forward position. So, we need someone like Ronny to be able to come in and provide the energy Ronny gave the Lakers. My suggestion is to go after Udonis Haslem. He is a big guy who can come off the bench and provide a spark to get them going.
With the Heat drafting Michael Beasley and signing James Jones, I've heard that they are shopping Shawn Marion. They are set at the power forward position. So I propose a trade that looks something like this: Lakers trade Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, and Vlad Radmanovic to the Heat for Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem, and a second round pick.
Maybe a little tinkering here or there. Here we unload Luke and that huge contract he signed, Lamar Odom's streaky self, and Vlad Radmanovic, who really hasn't shown up in the two years he's been here.
We get Shawn Marion, who can run up and down the court as fast as a grey hound, which is perfect for the system Phil Jackson wants. He also adds much needed defense. We would also get a pick that might help us, although, the Lakers really haven't had success when drafting from the second round. The only second round success I can think of is Sasha Vujacic.
The Heat get Lamar Odom, who, when he shows up, is a very good player who can provide the third scoring option. They also get a good passer in Luke Walton who can have a shooting touch from time to time (not enough to make a difference), and a nice spot-up shooter in Vlad Radmanovic.
I don't think that the Lakers should go after Ron Artest for four reasons.
First, he was basically banished from the Bulls and Pacers for behavior, he really can't do much in Sacramento unless there is a Malice in the Palace II.
Second, he wants to take all the shots, and that will not work on a team with Kobe Bryant.
Third, he is more concerned about his music (which isn't very good) than basketball, this will only hinder the Lakers.
And fourth, if the Lakers want him they will have to take Kenny Thomas.
Thomas' contract is worth $16.5 million over the next two years. He has not lived up to the contract, only playing in less than half of the first two seasons which wasn't due to injury. I think that is something to be considered. Ron Artest has too much baggage and the Lakers can't afford to take Kenny Thomas' contract.
The only thing left for the Lakers to do now is to re-sign Sasha Vujacic. There is no reason to let him get away from the Lakers. He came off the bench, averaged 8.8 points, plays tough defense and shoots 44 percent from the three. He gets under opponents' skin with his defense, much like Joe Dumars or Dennis Rodman did.
Sasha is one player that will become a deadly shooter and a tough defensive player. I really hope Mitch Kupchak doesn't let him get away. He should give him a three year, $3.94 million extension. This way, we can give him an opportunity to get the recognition he deserves.
If we can re-sign Sasha Vujacic, and make that trade with the Heat, the Lakers will be a serious monster in the NBA. I can't see anyone taking us out. The only thing that could stop the composition of this juggernaut is Mitch Kupchak.
He has a record of making stupid decisions and has another opportunity to make one or five million this offseason, it wouldn't be the first time. I think now would be a nice time for Kobe Bryant to speak up and try to use some of his persuasive influence to get the ball rolling. But we don't live in a perfect universe, so I don't know...
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