The Lakers have enough uncertainty heading into the season:
How to get familiar with Mike Brown’s leadership. How to forge basic chemistry with the new players, let alone on-court chemistry. And of course, wondering how Lamar Odom and his versatility will be replaced.
Both already have enough pressure to perform this year, but with the idea of potential trades, how will they perform in a season that could affect their future in purple and gold?
Let’s look at Pau Gasol first, last seen being embarrassed by Dirk Nowitzki in the second round of last year’s playoffs and hearing the claims once again that he’s soft when pushed.
Gasol already has enough reason to remind Lakers fans why he’s a top-five power forward in the league. If not for David Stern, he’d be in Houston, and most fans wouldn’t have missed him immediately. His value with the Lakers is arguably at the lowest since he arrived in 2008.
Yet he faced rumors of distraction during last year’s postseason, and if anything, the trade talks should inspire him even more to be focused. It’ll give him more ammunition to make the Lakers keep him or to show why he’d be a valuable asset to another team.
One thing is for sure, his attitude since the Chris Paul trade was nixed has been nothing but positive. He’s been both loved and hated since his trade, and I see him inspired and focused even more now that his security blanket in Odom is gone.
Bynum, on the other hand, should be somewhat encouraged that the Lakers are sticking with him. While his name may still be thrown out for a potential Dwight Howard trade, it’s clear that owner Jim Buss favors him and won’t part with him easily.
Bynum has heard trade rumors since he was talked about for Jason Kidd in the 2007-08 season. He knows that as much as the Lakers want him, he has to prove he can be play at a consistent level all year long.
I believe that he’ll have more fuel in his game. He’s already shown in practice that he’s in shape and ready to improve. And after he serves his five-game suspension, he’ll come out motivated to prove that he can be part of the Lakers' future.
Plus, Bynum should be motivated by the last time he faced Howard this past March. Despite being outscored, he had more rebounds, blocks and fewer turnovers. If he wants to be one of the best big men in the NBA and prove he can be a Lakers cornerstone, he has all the fuel to do it with now. I believe he’ll live up to it.
Besides Gasol and Bynum getting a sharp jolt, the trade talk can’t affect them for too long.
DeAndre Jordan’s slam over them in the preseason is a reminder that their focus has to be sharp from Day 1, regardless of what happens in the front office.
Ultimately, I think they’ll be fine. They have enough pressure on them to succeed; the trade talk is just one more thing they need to shake off and use as fuel, instead of as a reason to be in a funk.