NBA Predictions 2011: How the Lakers Would Fair Without Dwight Howard
What an offseason it has been for the aging Los Angeles Lakers. First, Superman (Dwight Howard) was supposed to swoop down and save the dismantling veteran team, then Chris Paul was added to the discussion, teasing Laker fans that much more, and finally, both were realistic scenarios heading into the final weeks before the season, making all Laker fans feel like Squints from The Sandlot, when he looked at that ever so desirable lifeguard, Wendy. But with most aspects of life, not everything goes your way, even if they should have—of course were talking about the biggest joke in NBA history, the now infamous CP3 veto.
This has essentially left one of the proudest organizations out to dry and their only hope to contend this year is to acquire what looks to be like another dead deal—Dwight Howard.
What one has to wonder is, why David Stern, one of the most intelligent and most respected sports commissioners of all time would do a disservice to a franchise that has made his league what it is today? It's as if Stern has lost some respect for the Lakers, maybe due to the fact that Dr. Buss's children have now taken over, but still, how could he do such a thing?
Whatever the reason may be, the Lakers are in a bad situation and if Mitch Kupchak doesn't find a way to make one of those "big moves" he mentioned this week, we may as well see the Lakers get bumped out of the playoffs early, maybe by a team like the Los Angeles Clippers. Now wouldn't that be awkward?
The question, "Who has the hottest ticket in town? The Lakers, or Clippers?" really has to be put in perspective, considering the Clippers are even being mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers. But this is what the Lakers have come to; questionable. Whether they like it or not, they are not title contenders as of now and won't be until they get Howard, and Howard only.
Can the Lakers Win a Title With the Current Roster?
For those of you that still believe in the Lakers, let me give you one simple fact that may change your perspective. The Lakers average age is around 30, and the last time I checked, age isn't something that can be reversed, especially for 37 year-old Derek Fisher, who shouldn't even be starting at this point in his career.
With an aging team, a confused Pau Gasol, and an unproven Laker bench, the Lakers may have gotten even worse since last season. Giving up Lamar Odom to the Mavericks was the last thing they needed to do and now they are stuck with Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Luke Walton, who mind you hasn't played hardly at all in the last two years.
The Lakers will not benefit from this shortened season, due to the fact that they have to play more games in less days, and if Coach Brown decides to rest Kobe and Fisher on the regular, don't expect to see the Lakers win as many games as they usually do.
This season could end up being a waiting period for Howard; waiting for him to become a free-agent so that he can choose to come to the Lakers without the league—Dan Gilbert and Mark Cuban especially—blocking it, but wait, is there still such thing as a free-agent? Or has Stern given "basketball reasons" to no longer have free-agents? Beats me.
For all those Laker fans out there, hang tight and be patient. If there is one sensible thing that Stern said in recent news, it's that the Lakers have endless possibilities to acquire marquee players, while teams like the Clippers don't. Just remember that if Howard doesn't come this season, you better bet he will next year.
It's been awhile, but the Lakers may be heading into some dark times as we speak, hopefully it's not as bad as what Laker fans call, the "Smush Parker era."
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