L.A. Lakers: Rebuild or Recover?

derrick brownContributor IJune 20, 2011

MACAU, CHINA - AUGUST 01:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski talks with Chris Paul #13 and Deron Williams #7 of the USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team during the USA Basketball International Challenge exhibition game against the Turkey National Team at the Coati Strip Cotai Arena August 1, 2008 in Macau, China.  (Photo by MN Chan/Getty Images)
MN Chan/Getty Images

The L.A. Lakers don’t need a superstar to win. In fact, they could’ve won with their 2010-11 roster. Of course there were some personal and personnel issues but nothing we haven’t overcome before.

A few seasons ago, we were forced to swap Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest, which was a fairly decent replacement, being that Ariza’s departure came as a surprise.

The next hole we attempted to fill or upgrade was at point guard, and we put our hope in the elder collegiate-champion point, Steve Blake. If you’re in the league for eight seasons and people can’t mention your name without referencing your college days, it’s probably not a great sign.

Anyways, that was a reach that didn’t quite pan out.

So how will the Lakers go forward with an older roster?

The Lakers could try to get a Jerryd Bayless, Jarrett Jack or Ramon Sessions-caliber guard who would seemingly cover our deficiencies, while keeping the core intact. Raymond Felton would surely be comforting, yet expensive. Nevertheless, this would be settling for a good player whose role is to extend the life of the roster rather than acquiring a franchise player at guard to win today and to build around for the future.

Keeping the core, at this point, might be for reasons more sentimental than for success. Glorious franchises have players who shouldn’t be traded, which are those who have won and spent the majority of their long careers with the same club (e.g. Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, now Dirk Nowitzki).

This isn’t to be confused with players who were brought in to win in the moment (e.g. Rasheed Wallace in Detroit and Shaq in Miami). As loved and appreciated as these players are, they could easily be shown the door in preparation to contend.

Kobe and Derek Fisher are the only two Lakers that must retire wearing purple and gold, but beyond that, whoever will help complete the quest to 17 should be in uniform. The only exemption here is Jim Buss’ Andrew Bynum.

Drew might have more job security than he ought to, considering his injury-riddled history, but that’s what a 42 and 15 performance followed by a 23 and 14 outing in 09’ gives you. (I remember those games like it was just yesterday.)

Just a year ago, Pau Gasol was regarded as the best (most skilled) big in the game…It sure is funny how times change. Needless to say he’s on the trading block. Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown are probably the only other attractive players L.A. has. Blake might have the savvy, wise veteran label still attached to him, but there are no guarantees that he can spark interest.

Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter are nonexistent and/or useless to most, as every team passed on them in the draft last year. A bright summer league showing had them set to be the gems of the second round, but they ran into Phil Jackson and a veteran-filled roster.

I consider myself to be a loyal fan, but I also know this is a business. Those in uniform are near and dear, but my biggest aspiration for the franchise is in having success in June.

I know this core has a few more good runs in them, but we don’t want to go out like the recent Sacramento Kings or Detroit Pistons teams. Outside of Webber, not one of those players from either team have done enough to have been remembered. So if there is still relatively high stock/trade potential with an underachieving team, I wouldn’t hesitate to shop anyone.  For L.A., if that means parting with Odom, Pau, Brown, Blake, Artest, or Bynum, so be it.

If we can get a Deron Williams or a Chris Paul for any reasonable combo of Gasol, Brown/ Odom, Brown, Blake/etc., Mitch and Buss shouldn’t think twice.

Felton is nice in the right system, but for whatever reasons, his skills weren’t on display in Charlotte. He would be walking into a similar defensive-minded atmosphere under Mike Brown in Los Angeles, which could be a drastic change to the running up-tempo styles where he thrived in Denver and New York.

Players and talent can be hard to predict, and with the Lakers time frame, they can’t afford to invest in anymore hopefuls or projects. If we are in the running for any superstar point, we should go after them.

With a Paul or Williams, you would not hear the ridiculous rumors saying, “Kobe has a few years left,” we would be back to dynasty talk, three-peats, possible 70-win seasons, etc. Defensively, both of these guards are quick and strong enough to limit penetration that's killed L.A. in the past.

So, the dilemma still remains.

We could revamp our franchise with a young, superstar point, but we’re only a few minor pieces away…