NBA Free Agency: Is the Rest of the NBA Trying To Dethrone the L.A. Lakers?
First there was the Shaq to Phoenix gimmick. Then there was the Vince Carter over Hedo Turkoglu decision in Orlando. Then there was the Shaq to Cleveland fiasco. Then there was the Richard Jefferson upgrade in San Antonio. Then there was the Rasheed Wallace pickup in Boston.
Now the superfriends (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire and maybe even Chris Paul) are giving serious thought to joining forces.
James, Wade, Stoudemire and Paul aren’t getting any younger, but each of them (barring injury) have as at least many playing days ahead of them as they do behind them.
So where does the sudden desperation stem from?
After three straight years entering the playoffs as the West’s number one seed, three straight NBA Finals appearances, two straight championships and an empirical 46-21 post-season record in that span, how could they not?
The Lakers have either dominated or matched 27 of the other 29 teams in the NBA since acquiring Gasol.
The Boston Celtics are the only team of significance (sorry Bobcats) that sports a winning record against the Lakers in either the regular season or the playoffs since Gasol was welcomed aboard and they seem to be on the brink of destruction.
But do the Lakers’ successes really justify the Cold War phase the NBA has found itself slipping into or could this all just be an illusion? Could the Lakers have really put the rest of the league on red alert or does it just seem that way?
After all, Rasheed Wallace was a necessary insurance policy after Kevin Garnett’s season ending injury, the Spurs were quickly losing ground in the West after suffering their first first-round elimination in the Tim Duncan era last year and the Cavaliers’ trade for Shaq can be rationalized because of their desperate need for a physical post-presence.
Is it silly to think that all of these teams have made these transactions the Lakers in the front of their mind?
Not really. Not when so many people have gone on record vehemently complaining about the Gasol/Kwame Brown trade. Not when you consider that more players with all-star selections have been moved in the last two seasons than in every other year of this decade combined.
Not when you’re talking about the Lakers.
Though the rest of the league is in hot pursuit, the Lakers always seem to have enough to stay on top. Think about it: ever since their Finals defeat in 2008 they’ve gotten better every year.
After 2008 the Lakers got healthy, welcoming back Andrew Bynum, in 2009 they snagged Ron Artest and already in this offseason Chris Bosh and Tracy McGrady have expressed interest and Laker management is reportedly in talks with Raja Bell.
Could things be going any better for the Lakers right now?
One thing’s certain: the other 29 teams in the NBA are hoping Phil Jackson walks off into the sunset. If he returns and the Lakers succeed in their efforts to fortify their bench there’s no reason to believe that they won’t become the NBA’s next dynasty.
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