L.A. Lakers: Lakers Need to Calm Down; They're Still Among the NBA's Elite

Michael BurkeContributor IIIJune 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after making a three-pointer in the third quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

As we all know, the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the 2011 NBA Playoffs in the Western Conference Semifinals by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in four games.

I’m sure everyone also saw Magic Johnson saying that the Lakers needed to “blow it up” and start all over again.  I’m a huge Magic fan, I really am, but this was easily one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard someone of his intelligence say.

We have to remember, this was just one series. Four games.  They didn’t miss the playoffs, they just had a bad series.  They had the second-best record in the West and could have easily had the best.

Rumors have also been surfacing of the Lakers possibly shipping Pau Gasol to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love.

In my opinion, this would be a disastrous move for Los Angeles to make.  Like the Lakers as a team, this was just one series for Gasol, four games.  It was a tough series for Pau, but this was a guy who still had an excellent season.

Gasol averaged almost 19 points and over 10 rebounds per game.  Those were right around his 2009-10 totals, and we were praising him after last season.  He’s still a great player, I just hope he knows that.

It seems pretty clear to me that the Lakers need to keep Pau on this team.  They’ve been to the Finals three of the four years he’s been in a Lakers uniform since coming over from Memphis.

The Lakers still also have arguably the best player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, who has had a lot of success with the group around him.

Kobe hasn’t had this much rest between seasons in quite some time, and he will come back extremely rested and ready to go as a result.  I fully expect a great season from him next year.

If there’s one move that would help the Lakers though, it would be trading away Lamar
Odom and Andrew Bynum for Orlando big man Dwight Howard.

I love Odom and Bynum, but adding Howard would make a great 1-2 punch down low with him and Gasol, making the Lakers the clear favorites going into next season, even over Miami.

Even if the Lakers don’t make a deal for Howard, I still think they’re the favorites in the Western Conference, even over Dallas.

One good run for the Mavs, even if it was en route to a championship, doesn’t make me believe they are a better team than the Lakers.

Aside from Dallas, there aren’t really any other teams in the West that I see challenging the Lakers.

The Thunder?  Can’t see Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant playing well together late in the playoffs. 

San Antonio?  Overrated, old and not a good postseason team.

Memphis?  The Grizzlies had a good run, and they could be serious contenders in the future, but they still have work to do.

At the end of the day,  I see the Lakers as the class of the West heading into next season.  That is, of course, if they don’t trade away Gasol.

Los Angeles just needs to relax.  Four games shouldn’t make you just “blow everything up”.