While some argue about the Lakers' ability to win a championship, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would completely discount them as contenders... this year.
The future of the Lakers is still pretty much in question. With Phil Jackson leaving and no young players with superstar potential, their championship window can be limited to this year.
The only players on the roster who are under 30 are Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter and Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers need to get younger quickly if they want to continue to be a championship contender.
Here are some moves that the Lakers can make to brighten up the future.
While not the flashiest name on this list, he is by far one of the brightest.
If the Lakers were to acquire and keep him, they would have four out of the five starting positions filled in the future.
A core of Ebanks, Caracter, Lin and Bynum could compete for a playoff spot until a star emerges in Lakerland.
Out of all the players on this list, he may be the easiest to trade for. Being undrafted and not getting a lot of minutes, the asking price could be a pair of second-round picks. Though he may not be a superstar, I don't think he will ever be a liability at the point guard spot which is invaluable in the NBA.
Needless to say, Anthony Randolph has not performed the way I thought he would in New York.
After a surprising rookie season in Golden State, he has struggled to make a dent in the NBA. He is a player who needs constant reassurance and a stable environment.
While his heart may be in question, his talent is not. At 6'10" with high vertical and ball handling skills, he is the second coming of Lamar Odom.
Who better to mentor him than Lamar? If he were traded to the Lakers, they could afford to wait and have him develop under Lamar.
He is a strong finisher who could flourish in the triangle or be featured in a pick and roll with Kobe if they change the system.
Seeing as how the Knicks have been throwing his name around in trade talks, it is likely that he is available. If he isn't involved in the Carmelo Anthony deal (or if it never happens), the Lakers could likely snatch him up for picks and or a trade exception.
Let's be honest here, Ricky Rubio will never play for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Why would he? While the Wolves have upgraded their roster significantly in the past few years, there is speculation that he will only play for a team with a bigger market.
Rubio has already expressed great admiration for the Los Angeles Lakers, and I imagine would love to play with Kobe Bryant.
The one knock on Rubio is that he cannot shoot. While that is true, he has amazing vision and has great speed.
If you guessed Rajon Rondo, we are on the same wavelength. If he is able to play with this group he can create some quality shots for others and make them play as a cohesive unit instead of isolation basketball.
While there is no indication that the Wolves will move Rubios rights, it is unable to foresee what they would ask for. However, it might be possible to pry him away since they have Flynn in the fold.
The Grizzlies have been shopping OJ Mayo for a few weeks now, but they have not shipped him as of yet.
The Lakers would be a great fit as he can learn the game from one of the best shooting guards of all time.
A franchise core of Andrew Bynum and Mayo could compete for years.
If other deals don't go through, the Lakers may be able to swoop in and get another talented player out of Memphis.
The ultimate wild card.
JR Smith is a scoring threat every time he has the ball. With a solid three-point shot and the ability to drive to the basket, Smith can be the centerpiece of any offense he is in.
If the Nuggets move Carmelo Anthony, Smith will be a headache that is no longer worth the trouble.
In Los Angeles, he can be the sixth man and be a part of a championship campaign. More importantly, he can give Kobe more rest and may save him for a few more years.
He may get over-valued by Denver but if he finds himself in the open market, the Lakers would be foolish not to pursue him.