Right now the Los Angeles Lakers could get by with a little help from their old friends.
By Tim David Harvey
It's no news that the Lakers are in a spot of trouble right now. The notion of sending legendary coach Phil Jackson off to Montana with a championship three-peat was a write-off, as the Dallas Mavericks took Larry O'Brien back to Dallas last season.
Sure, the Lakers still don't have a whole lot to worry about. There are always trials and tribulations, and things will get better in this new Mike Brown era, but the Lakers could use a little help.
Perhaps they could get it from some old friends they should have never lost touch with. The rumors about the Lakers signing all sorts of players, including some old ones, are running rife.
Here's the definitive list of the best squad of Lakers alumni lost after the post-Shaq era. The players missed the most, and who could really be used right now. These 'Lost Lakers' sure do make a good team.
One hell of a bench.
Mitch Kupchak just yesterday told the press he doesn't expect his bench microwave-burner to return after deciding to test free agency. That's a real shame, as last year the spark-plug lifted the Staples Center crowd with his dunks that looked as good as Hollywood stunts. He was more than superficial, however, developing and honing his game to be a big-time contributor in the crunch.
Give him a couple more clutch plays and you are looking at one of the best bench players in the league, ready to give his team a lift just like a Bobby Jackson or Vinnie Johnson. Last year, Lakers fans were so happy that Brown re-signed after he was tempted to join the big apple of core New York Knicks players.
Now they are looking at his replacement. Even though all these potential moves would be great. Sometimes things really do get better when they stay the same.
He may have been the butt of many jokes, but despite the tears and 'stache, Mo is no joke. Despite the bench-sitting highlight reels made by Jimmy Kimmel after the Lakers second championship, Adam Morrison can play. "He can really go", Kobe told Kimmel, and take it from me, this guy's got more sharp shots than suits and more twine than pine.
This former lottery ticket is no bust. Adam can score like a starter, but with all the options the Lakers had he had to take his ticket and wait in line. Sure, a few more years here could have helped both parties, but it's the Washington Wizards that made the real pooper to begin last year's campaign.
Morrison may have been cut, but he's got plenty more tricks up his sleeve. Lets just hope another team can provide the vest.
Josh may be a quiet guy who seldom played for the Lakers, but he will be missed. He will always be remembered like Mark Madsen for coming in and giving the Lake Show everything he had in any minutes he got. He even put up decent numbers in Andrew Bynum's absence.
When it was time to step up, Josh answered a call that wasn't even meant for him, but he received and connected. A fan and team favourite, Powell's taste in music provided a playlist for the team and Lakers.com.
As a player, too, J-Peezy sounded a lot better than most people are willing to hear. He clicked in a shuffled Lakers rotation as he helped the team repeat.
Josh plays like a tall guard or forward in a big man's body and is raw and seasoned with championship experience. Now this young Atlanta Hawk is still in the playoff hunt as the necessary cover required to help this running and winning team flow. Hawk eyes are on him.
Sure, with just a mere mention of the word 'taco,' Mbenga may provide more entertainment than when the Lake Show hits 100 on burrito night, but D.J. will be missed for more character 'hits' than that. Sure, Mbenga may have been posterized more times than Shawn Bradley acting like a camera man in a dunk contest, but D.J. could put it down, too.
Now yes, when he dyed his hair gold with Ron Artest, Mbenga may have looked more like another NBA wild man—Dennis Rodman—ready to hit a retirement home, but when D.J. was requested he manned the boards and helped the Lakers rebound from injuries. Baby Mutombo is an ambassador to defence, and when he served for the sensational city of New Orleans, he showed the nest some buzz.
We can't forget about Sasha, who was traded in the middle of last season. Sure this machine gunner at times was in a funk and was wild and erratic, but he still served well like Maria Sharapova. Speaking of his belle, we saw him courtside this summer in London for Wimbledon, but Lakers fans sure do miss him at times on court in Staples.
Earlier on in 2011 in London, after the big trade, he hit many big clutch shots for his new team, the New Jersey Nets as he helped thaw the Toronto Raptors in their international double-header. Even when the Lakers hit England's capital last year, the Slovenian still drew cheers and charges despite all eyes on Kob'.
Vujacic was a popular character because of his shot, style, defence and passion. He was erratic but enigmatic, inconsistent but still a champion. The title and praise speaks for itself. The machine motors on along with Jordan Farmar in New Jersey. No sleep 'till Brooklyn.
Brothers in arms.
If it wasn't for Marc, there would be no Pau. Sure, Marc's the younger brother, but his draft rights held by the Lakers were part of the trade that brought Pau and all those championships to Laker land. Sure, Kwame Brown was part of the trade where Pau Gasol was 'given' to the Lakers, but in hindsight, and given the way Pau's young brother has grown up, it has been a fair trade.
Sure, Marc's the only guy on this list that has never donned a Lakers jersey or logged a minute of showtime action, but he would have been more then most valuable as a player here. This post power is the centre of attention in Memphis and a solid, strong, big 20-10 guy.
Sure, with Bynum, Marc's absence is by the by, but it sure would have been nice to see two great brothers on the same team. You'll have to wait until Spain to see that now.
Still has some inside.
Vladimir was always one of those talents that could have had more of an output. From floppy hair and bandannas to buzz cuts and from skiing trips to slides out the rotation, Radmanovic had his ups and downs.
Still, with that all said and done, this tall, versatile forward is one hell of a talent. It seemed liked the Lakers gave him away to the Charlotte Bobcats for the talented Adam Morrison, but that was until Shannon Brown developed.
That doesn't mean Vlad isn't missed. With a bargain, Nowitzki-like inside/outside game, Rad is tall enough to go inside and has had one of the sweetest strokes from outside by any Laker, present and past, over the last decade. Right now, Radmanovic would be the perfect guy off the bench, supplementing Gasol, bringing both shared and different talents off the bench.
The Lakers already have a decent B-team, but Vladamir would help it become one of best in the league.
Big time guy.
The Dallas Mavericks have a lot of fire power—you don't win championships without big guns—but one of their best all-around guys is Caron Butler. A knee injury ushered Butler out of most of the victorious Maverick season. As this news broke out last season, it hit former teammate Kobe Bryant hard. Bryant is a close friend of Caron and still reiterates his disappointment of how the Lakers traded Butler. The Lakers practically let him disappear to the Washington Wizards for Kwame Brown, but then again, Kwame did bring the Lake Show Pau Gasol.
It was another trade disappointment for L.A. when they lost Shaq to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom and Butler. Still, despite the losses, Bryant, Odom and Butler made for a wonderful three that could have lasted and won together.
The Lakers liked Caron so much at one point that they were even rumoured to be shipping Odom to get their Butler back in the past. If Caron was to ever come back via trade or free agency, he'd be the most welcome return to the Lakers family since the Lakers fished for Derek.
A heralded defender in all aspects with an even more underrated, diverse offensive set, Butler is built for all aspects of basketball. When he returns, this Butler is going to be at it, for whoever he serves.
"Pst Trevor...come back!"
Of all the people on this list, Trevor Ariza is one of the most missed by Lakers fans. Even with the much-loved Ron Artest and the Ariza look-a-like, play-a-like Devin Ebanks, the Lake Show loved the rising talent of Ariza. The swingman, who does it on both ends of the floor, is still one of the most underrated players in the league, and he practically gave L.A. their first ring after the new millennium three-peat.
With great defence on and off the ball, gazelle-like speed and thieving steals, this tenacious, versatile talent was a fast-break starter. He was also a fast-break finisher, with rim-rocking dunks and twine-tweaking threes.
There's no one quite like this guy, expect one man. The Lakers had a problem when Ariza signed with the Houston Rockets, so it was good that they inked Ron Artest, because it takes an enigmatic man to replace an enigmatic talent.
Can keep up with the best.
It still seems strange that this UCLA grad is now in the Garden State, sporting a New Jersey with another former L.A. story, Sasha Vujacic. Farmar was always the man meant to take over Fisher's crop at point guard once the clutch retired, but not everything works out.
The Lakers are doing more than alright with the tough, sharp-shooting Steve Blake, but Jordan is still missed here like legends in Chicago. A starter for the future, this man has speed, finesse and savvy in reserve. With his complete point guard skills, Jordan could become a franchise guy. It's just a shame it won't be for the Lakers.
A big play guy.
Basketball teams these years are nothing without their sixth men, and reserves these days don't come much better or more underrated then Maurice Evans. With Mo, you have no problems because this swingman covers more spots then Clearasil.
With speed, finesse and athleticism, this guy doesn't just look like a prototype ball player, he is one. One that also helped end the lockout with current Laker Derek Fisher. They have to let him play.
The slasher cuts through to the basket like Wes Craven cuts through college kids. As for his finishing talent, where do we start? His dunks are amazing, and his layups and finger-rolls are amazing grace, whether straight forward or off-balance.
This guy has put down so many circus shots like they where nothing, it's a shame he couldn't be a ringmaster here in Laker Land. Wouldn't that be something?
So there you have it, five guys and one in reserve that the Lakers may have replaced but still wouldn't mind a reunion with. Players that not only make up a team but helped make up the Lakers squad and now make the most of their contributions to their current sides. At the end of the day, no matter the colour, there's nothing like the Lakers family.