Truth be told, the Lakers haven't exhibited much consistency to allay whatever concern there may be. As I've written before, they struggle to force turnovers, which is a direct result of a lack of defensive intensity.
There are a couple of different ways to fix that, and some have suggested a roster shakeup. Given the status of the Lakers roster, however, what they'd have to give up would far outweigh anything they could gain.
I've read about rumors involving a possible trade for Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo. In that scenario, the Lakers would be giving up Shannon Brown.
Given the intricacies of the triangle offense, can anyone really say that they would rather have Mayo?
I didn't think so.
I know moving Brown could be attractive to the Lakers. If he does not exercise his option to stay with the team next season, L.A. could lose him and get nothing in return.
However, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak should be pouring his energies into moving Luke Walton's contract to enable the club to retain Brown long-term.
Walton is scheduled to make $5.68 million and $6.1 million the next two seasons. Brown's option is for $2.4 million. Once again, I ask: Who would you rather have?
Walton is a favorite of Jackson's, but is it really worth sacrificing Brown's multi-dimensional skill set for Walton's nondescript offense and semi-solid defense?
There was also the report last week that forward Ron Artest would be glad to leave Los Angeles. Artest later denied that report, but while his play hasn't been inspiring, it isn't the problem. He is probably one individual the Lakers could afford to part ways with, as Lamar Odom could easily start in his place and no one would notice.
Another scenario involved center Andrew Bynum and Odom going from L.A. to Denver in exchange for Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. I won't even get into how ludicrous this scenario is, because the Lakers would be forsaking their greatest advantage in the playoffs: length.
The problems with this team lie with its point guards, though no one is willing to cast blame on Derek Fisher because of his resume.
Brown may be a shooting guard now, but perhaps he could be the Lakers' most effective 1-guard, if given the opportunity.
His assist-to-turnover ratio is far worse than Fisher's, but Fisher's liability defensively has proved to be a bigger concern.
Did you notice who was guarding Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo at times last Sunday?
Do you really want to exhaust Kobe Bryant's energy guarding a point guard?
If Brown could take care of the basketball and play solid minutes at the 1—Phil Jackson usually prefers taller point guards for the triangle—his defense, combined with his ability to put the ball on the floor and score from the perimeter, would easily increase the Lakers' options on both ends of the floor.
Any trade that would improve the Lakers' greatest roster need—depth under the basket—would probably have to include Brown or Odom.
That price is too expensive.