Christmas could come early for Los Angeles Lakers fans.
Amid rumblings that the Lakers are willing to trade anyone on their roster who doesn’t wear number 24, fake photos featuring Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in purple and gold surfaced on Facebook faster than Herman Cain went from GOP frontrunner to fluke.
But let’s remember what happened the last time L.A. brought in two superstars–Karl Malone and Gary Payton in 2003. Let’s also remember the last time Kobe Bryant played with the best big man in the NBA.
Sure, there are differences between then and now. Malone and Payton were at the tail end of their careers, searching for one last chance at a championship and hoping four stars could align to form a stellar squad. Howard, who will turn 26 on Dec. 8, and Paul, who turned 26 last May, are still basketballs deep in their primes.
Bryant has immensely matured since the dysfunctional marriage with Shaq–at least it lasted longer than 72 days–and is now able to easily co-exist with other great players.
And that’s why the Lakers, with a more mature, trusting, self-sacrificial Bryant, have been such a steady team. That’s why the Lakers—before last year—appeared in three straight Finals and won the latter two.
The idea that any Laker but Bryant is suddenly trade-able, regardless of who the incomers may be, is suspect. Aside from a hole in the backcourt, the Lakers have a solid team. The only knock on them last season was their inability to keep up with younger competition, like the Mavs.
With a shortened 66-game regular season this time around, the Lakers should be healthy and well rested. Add a hungry, defense-oriented Mike Brown to the mix and L.A. will again be in contention for a title.
Many Lakers fans will still ask Santa for the aforementioned rumblings to become a reality. But in retrospect, they should be careful what they ask for.
Follow Josh Hoffman on Twitter here.