The Los Angeles Lakers need to act quickly before this season spins helplessly out of control.
When "basketball reasons" derailed the Lakers' trade for point guard Chris Paul, it set off a chain of events that has set an ominous tone for the season.
The failed trade took the wind out of the Lakers' sails. That nixed deal led to the Lakers dealing Lamar Odom for a draft pick and a trade exception to a Dallas Mavericks team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
That was a big blow to team chemistry, and players like Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher voiced their frustration over letting Odom go for next to nothing.
The Lakers cannot sign any free agents that do not agree to play for the league minimum. This obviously limits their options. However, there are still moves they can make to reenergize this team.
The first thing the Lakers need to do is get the face of their franchise more involved with the team. They certainly do not have to let him call the shots, but they should involve him in the discussions.
This will help Kobe feel valued and involved. It will help him continue to be a team player and work towards the ultimate goal of winning.
The last thing the Lakers need is to have a Kobe Bryant that feels alienated and is chucking up 80 shots a game trying to do everything on his own.
The Lakers need to do everything they can to land Dwight Howard. They need to offer up Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. And the players need to be aware they are going full tilt after Howard.
This team is hungry for a massive shakeup and acquiring Howard would do just that. The star center would give LA the promise of better things to come. Even if they do struggle at times this season, fans would have a huge ray of hope and promise of a bright future blocking shots in the middle of their defense.
They can't let this drag on. That will only hang over everyone's head and push this team further into a funk. If they can't pull the trigger on a deal they need to quickly move on.
If the Lakers can't land Howard, they need to get to work on the next trade. This team must ensure that they quickly turn what they got for Odom into a tangible player.
This move needs to be for a point guard.
The best move here would be to to try and work a three-team trade. They could find a team looking to clear salary in anticipation of next year's free-agent market. The Lakers could use their trade exception to absorb the contracts and turn those players into Steve Nash.
Nash is going to be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Suns future is not now. Phoenix will be eager to get value for their star point guard.
This move would not help the Lakers' future, but it would drastically alter their present. It would invigorate an offense that too often grew stale last season, and instantly turn this into a team ready to compete for the title this year.
This is going to be the hardest move of all on the list. But, if they don't send him to the Magic for Dwight Howard, the Lakers must get Andrew Bynum to focus on defense.
Bynum has always been an inconsistent defensive player. He is far more concerned with the sexy offensive numbers.
The Lakers need him to be a force on D. LA has solid defenders on the wing, but they can't stop point guards from getting to the rack.
Derek Fisher and Steve Blake can't stay in front of anyone outside of pickup games at the local retirement center.
Bynum needs to make sure that their penetration does not result in easy buckets. He needs to be quick on his rotations, and disciplined in the pick and roll.
He also needs to own the boards.
With a strong defensive presence down low, the remaining Lakers would be able to close the gap on their man and limit the amount of quality outside looks they receive.