Mike Brown is officially on the L.A. Lakers payroll as the new head coach of the franchise, but everyone wants to know how much he will impact who stays and who goes on this aging Laker squad.
We all know that Kobe Bryant's spot is safe, but I fear the same cannot be said for anyone else on the team. Some players underperformed as of late, some clashed with the coaching staff and other players in the locker room, and some of them are just plain getting old. With the Lakers failing to even reach the NBA Finals this postseason, it's clear that things are going to change.
The question now is: Who do the Lakers keep, and who do they deal away?
Do they keep the injury-prone center who has recently shown poor sportsmanship?
Is it better to keep a highly skilled, but soft power forward?
Can their Iron Man PG still run the offense for a team that desperately needs a shot of athleticism?
These and many more questions will be answered in the pages that follow. The Lakers have a great many choices to make in order to turn this team into a contender in the near future. Many of those decisions will be influenced by head coach Mike Brown. The following is a list of players I believe Brown will send packing.
I thought I would start with the most obvious person on the list, Derek Fisher.
Laker fans worldwide appreciate what he has done for the franchise over the years. His presence in the locker room has been unbelievable and his clutch shots, seemingly unending.
The fact of the matter however, is that it's finally time for Fisher to say his goodbyes. He's officially a liability on defense, his offense is at new lows (even for him), and his usually clutch shots have not been falling they way they used to.
The truth is that the Lakers need one heck of a shot of athleticism, and it starts at the point guard position. They need a player that can help with the scoring load, connect the dots for other players on the fast break, and not let speed demon guards blow by them. Mike Brown undoubtedly knows this already, and it's my guess he's already planning a new destination for Mr. Fish.
I think it would be a great idea to keep his presence around as an assistant coach or other staff position, but it's clear that he should no longer be on the court.
It's pretty clear now that Andrew Bynum has officially worn out his welcome with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Before, he was just injury-prone (as if that's not bad enough), and now he's also one heck of a poor sport. The flagrant foul at the end of Game 4 was indefensible all by itself. Taking his jersey off at midcourt just poured salt in the wound.
While this was not an isolated incident, it certainly reminded the Lakers organization that Bynum is failing to mature as his career moves forward. He still acts like a kid out there on a court full of professionals.
My guess is that Mike Brown is not going to want to deal with that kind of behavior and will be sending him packing. The tricky thing with Bynum is you have to get good size back in exchange. That being harder than it may seem in today's NBA, the Lakers will have their work cut out for them.
Rumors have circulated that Bynum may be the main piece in a possible Dwight Howard deal, but I'm not ready to put too much stock into that just yet.
The bottom line is the Lakers need to move forward without center Andrew Bynum. They need players that will bring good chemistry, a strong work ethic, and a hunger to win.
Everyone is now referring to this as another "failed experiment."
While I agree that it's time for Ron to go, I do not agree that his coming to Los Angeles was a mistake. Let's remember who made that layup against the Suns when time ran out. Let's not forget who drained a three in Pierce's grill to seal the deal in the NBA Finals.
Artest did everything we needed him to do in order to repeat as champions and should not take half the heat he does from today's fans.
That being said, the Lakers are now moving in a new direction that does not require his services. The small forward position is the other spot that the Lakers must add youth and athleticism. They need someone who can share the scoring load with Kobe, shut down wing opponents like Pierce, and catch the ally-oop in transitions like Shawn Marion (think Andre Iguodala).
Artest cannot be that guy for the Lakers anymore. His offense used to be questionable, now it's nonexistent. He used to be a little awkward on the break, now he's just out of place. His dunks used to be cringe-worthy moments, now the fans can't even look.
The bottom line is Ron came to L.A. to get a ring, and he did. Now he may be able to help another team in their quest to the mountaintop, but certainly not the Lakers. Mike Brown knows this and will look to fill that starting spot with someone who brings good energy both on and off the court.
I'm going to make this one short and sweet.
Can anyone even remember the last time he played?
Okay, so he did play a few garbage minutes scattered across this year's postseason. Allow me to ask you another question.
Can anyone remember the last time he made a bucket?
At his best, Luke Walton should have only been a reserve player. As he stands now, he should be taking people's tickets. He's like Ron Artest, but with ZERO upside. Maybe he can pass, but you can't be a rotation player with one move, can you?
But I digress...
Mike Brown should attach him to a package of players so he can do something valuable with the roster spot.
Matt Barnes didn't really do anything wrong, he just didn't do anything right either.
Barnes is the exception in this group of players, mostly because he just never was able to fit in. With Artest starting over him, he struggled to get the minutes needed to be effective in the team's rotation. Because of this, his shots never really started to fall, his handles were usually clumsy, and his defense consisted of mostly hard fouls instead of solid play.
Matt Barnes has the ability to be a solid contributor on many squads, he just didn't quite fit in to what the Lakers needed. My guess is that coach Brown will see it fit to package him in a deal with a few other players to get a solid one in return.
One thing we can be assured of is that the Lakers need to seek out solid contributors as they move in a new direction. The Lakers organization as well as Matt Barnes will most likely both do better without each other.