J.A. Adande, what are you talking about?
The sports columnist subtly mentioned on ESPN that he spoke with a general manager who said not to "rule out the Lakers for anything short of LeBron James..."
At first, it sounds like he's saying that the Lakers are eyeing LeBron in a yellow and purple jersey.
Now, as ridiculous, far-fetched, (you fill in the blank) as that may sound, let's not close the gate too early.
Yet, a reader kindly pointed out that I misunderstood J.A. What J.A. must have meant to say was that the Lakers can be in the mix of landing one of the big-named free agents this summer. Does that still include LeBron James? (Considering the Lakers' cap space, and Buss wanting to shed dollars, I highly doubt it).
Let's not let the LeBron-Laker ordeal be the main focus for our 2010 NBA champions. The idea of LeBron to the Lakers just adds onto the list of questions that surround the Lakers in the offseason.
Let's take a look at some of those big question marks.
NOTE: Correction made June 22, 2010.
We have to break the LeBron question into two:
1) LeBron to L.A.?
If LeBron goes to Los Angeles, then the NBA is done for. 2010-11, don't bother having an NBA Final.
Kobe-LeBron, not going to happen. Zero percent.
L.A. doesn't have the cap space to buy LeBron. LeBron is also smart enough not to sign for a very, very low salary cap, which is the only affordable price the Lakers could offer him.
The rumor revolves around a sign-and-trade, potentially with Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. That's all we can leave it at.
2) LeBron's effect on the Lakers run for a three-peat?
LeBron and Kobe are riding on the same boat, in terms of talent, and the King will give the Lakers a headache wherever he chooses to go.
He is capable of turning any team into a playoff contender.
Though unlikely but still a possibility, LeBron and his super friends (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) might form a monster team that can scare the Lakers out of their shorts.
Enough nonsense about LeBron.
The main question for the Lakers is Phil Jackson, whose contract with the team expires. Will he re-sign with the Lakers?
Many sources favor yes. And why not? Besides having more white hair and medical reasons, where else would he go?
I can't think of any reason why Jackson would go to Cleveland, unless he wants to coach LeBron.
Jackson, undoubtedly, was one of the key factors in helping the Lakers win another title. And with many of their core players returning next year, he knows that they can play for another title next year.
He can add a fourthe three-peat to his accomplishments. He can coach Kobe to match basketball icon Michael Jordan. I'm not sure how much he wants to tame Ron Artest, but Jackson is the right man for the job. (Face it, no coach really wants Artest in his club.) Jackson is the steady-man, a very chill guy. He's no Stan Van Gundy, constantly off his seat, yelling and waving his arms.
Jackson keeps the Lakers focused with his stare; he yells through his whistles. Without him, the Lakers have no shot for another title, and it's up to Jerry Buss if he wants to maintain Jackson's $12 million salary.
The core guys will be back; Kobe, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum are all under contract for the 2010-11 season. No worries there.
Three key free agents are: Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown.
Fisher stepped up big for the the Lakers during the playoffs, and he seems to love playing for them. (He did return in 2007 after being dealt to the Jazz.) But we'll see how true that is if he decides to sign with the Lakers for a reduced-salary contract.
Brown has a player option, and we'll have to wait and see if he decides to opt out of his final year.
Jordan Farmar hasn't had much success fitting in with Jackson's coaching style, but he can provide some viable trade options for the Lakers.
Other than that, the draft doesn't offer the Lakers much, and they can only settle for a close-to-average free agency season.
Expect Buss to slowly widen the salary cap space.
The NBA, this season, was fun to watch. No team was dominant, especially the Lakers.
The Thunder and Suns managed to push the Lakers into a Game Six. The NBA Finals fell down to the wire in a Game Seven.
Rather than worrying about the rising powers in the West and Eastern Conferences, the Lakers should focus on what the questions are within their own team:
1) Will Kobe and Bynum be fully healthy by next season?
2) Will Phil Jackson return?
3) Will Derek Fisher return?
The ultimate quality of the team falls in Kobe's hands. He wants to match Jordan's six NBA titles, and that could be enough to push him over the edge for his desire to win.
This season's championship title was a lot tougher to get. But the Celtics are about to dismantle. Their Big Three are getting older and slower. Ray Allen will be a free agent. The Eastern Conference contenders all depend on what happens during free agency.
Other than that, the Magic and whatever-LeBron team are the only ones teasing the Lakers, so far.
The Thunder and Kevin Durant gave the Lakers fans a run for their money. Who knew such a rumble was rising from the West? Oklahoma City still can improve and will be exciting to watch next season.
Once the Nuggets and Mavs can pull their acts together, then the Lakers will have more reasons to worry.
How about the Spurs?
Tim Duncan is aging.
But San Antonio can still play a factor, unless Tony Parker and Eva Longoria decide to have a kid or move to New York.