The Los Angeles Lakers have been to three-straight NBA Finals since Pau Gasol joined Kobe Bryant in LA. This pairing ushered in a new run for the Lakers that continues this playoffs as LA seeks a three-peat.
But with the ups and downs of this past regular season, as well as an unimpressive start to the playoffs and the first-round matchup versus the New Orleans Hornets, many Lakers fans feel that something must be done by Lakers management to preserve this current LA dynasty.
So, what are the key moves the Lakers front office can make to keep LA an elite team?
Here are the eight main ways the Lakers can preserve their current dynasty.
As long as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are healthy and remain Lakers, they will only know one offense in LA: The Triangle.
So, that means the way to keep this dynasty rolling is to hire the one coach who knows this offense, and that is former UC Santa Barbara star, NBA vet and Lakers assistant coach, Brian Shaw.
If Phil Jackson actually retires at the end of this season (I'm pretty sure he will, but you never know), Shaw is the logical replacement for the Lakers.
Look for Lakers management to make the right move; you’ll see Shaw walking the sidelines next season.
He's the man that could beef up and "mean up" Pau Gasol, and a stronger, more aggressive Gasol only improves the Lakers' front line.
With a team full of aging stars (Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, etc.) there isn't much upside left in LA outside of young center Andrew Bynum.
But Gasol doesn't have the miles or the wear and tear on his body like the others (he only played a few playoff games before his arrival in LA). The Spaniard can actually get better by becoming stronger and more aggressive.
And Grover is the man to help him do that.
If Matt Barnes can get healthy after his in-season knee surgery (he’s not healthy right now, and it shows when he’s on the court during these playoffs), he can gain more minutes next season, benefiting both the team and Ron Artest.
Ron Ron is another aging star on the Lakers' roster, and his minutes should be reduced during the regular season.
Reduced minutes will leave players like Artest fresher for the playoffs, when it really matters.
I know it’s nearly sacrilegious to even suggest that Derek Fisher shouldn’t start, but the time has come. He’s so valuable to the team at the end of games and in the playoffs that LA needs to limit D-Fish’s regular-season minutes.
Steve Blake should start and take the bulk of the regular-season minutes; an aging Fisher can still shine when it matters most—at the end of games and in the postseason.
The Lakers have gotten nothing from backup center Theo Ratliff (injured this year). And, while LA has the three-headed monster of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the team still needs a quality backup.
They lost D.J. Mbenga this past year, and his absence has actually been noticeable.
One of the top offseason priorities is to sign a quality backup, even for the veteran minimum.
If healthy, Andrew Bynum is the future in LA. Now there's that big “if.”
Let's assume he will remain uninjured. We’ve already seen the damage he can do in the paint.
And with an aging Kobe Bryant, LA has every reason to get Bynum more touches. The Lakers can remain on top if they pound the paint, and that begins with Bynum.
It's disappointing, but it's a fact: Kobe Bryant won’t play forever, and there are some serious miles on those tires.
The key to keeping him on court is reducing his minutes, especially in the regular season. If the Lakers accomplish this, they can count on Kobe to be Kobe in the playoffs.
That’s because a healthy and fresh Bryant, even at age 33 next season, can still be an elite player. Michael Jordan won his last title at age 35, so there is no reason to think that Bryant, with reduced minutes and a game already adapted to his changing body, can’t be effective and keep LA at the top.
That said, the Lakers need to sign a high-caliber 2-guard or small forward who can create his own shot (someone like O.J. Mayo), spell Bryant and reduce his minutes.
With Luke Walton becoming a free agent, the Lakers might have some cap space for a quality vet, or they could use an exemption to bring in a backup for Bryant.
I'll leave that to the Laker front office.
With a potential lockout looming and a reduction in the NBA’s salary cap nearly guaranteed, the Lakers will have little room to maneuver and change their lineup by adding free agents.
And, with Kobe Bryant and company aging, the best move is to do nothing.
That’s right—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, especially if the Lakers can three-peat.
If they don’t, all bets are off, but look for the Lakers to stand pat if they manage to win another NBA title this June.