Los Angeles Lakers Lose Again: Where Does the Team Go From Here?

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIIFebruary 18, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 14:  Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on February 14, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are the latest victim in the year of the hypothetical panic button.

After the Lakers suffered an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, Lakers fans hoped to see Carmelo Anthony boarding a plane to LA.

Not so fast.

Although the Lakers lost their third straight game, all three of which could be considered embarrassing in their own way, panicking right now is a little excessive.

Last year's championship squad went 4-7 in its last 11 games; only one of the wins was against a playoff team, but they still managed to get it together in time for the playoffs.

If the Lakers believe that a trade has to happen to shoot for the three-peat, Carmelo Anthony would be a great option for them in the short and long term.

However, the Lakers might not need such a prominent figure to make their engine run again.

If the Lakers do explore trades, they should deal Ron Artest. ESPN's Marc Stein reported that Artest wants to be dealt instead of being blamed for certain problems with the Lakers.

Artest seems to be a step slower on defense and useless on offense in most games, leading him to be removed in late-game situations. He's shooting a career-low 39 percent from the field and averaging another career low in points with 7.9 per game.

The first move the Lakers should make is shopping Artest and seeing what they can get for him. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Nuggets are not interested in Artest.

If the Lakers aren't able to move Artest before the deadline, they still have a shot to win the title.

Four words can be their motto: Trust in Phil Jackson.

Jackson readily admits that the team has been far from its best, saying he thinks the Lakers mentally checked out before the Cavs game. Earlier in the season, the Lakers beat the Cavs by 55 points.

With Wednesday's victory, the Cavs became only the fourth team in NBA history to beat a team after being beat by at least 55 in the previous contest.

This year, the Lakers lost four straight games for the first time since the 2006-07 season. They have two other losing streaks of three games or more, including the skid they are on now.

However, Pau Gasol is starting to heat back up. Seemingly sick of being called soft, Gasol has scored 47 points and grabbed 30 boards in the last two games. Although the Lakers have been less than impressive in the two games, Gasol has returned to the form that had him in contention for the MVP earlier in the season.

The Zen Master is not one to complain about his roster. He will work with what he has and make sure that, when the playoffs start, the Lakers know what they have to do.

He has yet to go into a press conference and complain he doesn't have the right players to win.

Phil will right the ship, no matter what happens.