Los Angeles Lakers: Changes are Needed, Time to Transition for the Future

Howard Ruben@howardrubenContributor IDecember 27, 2011

Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum: It May Be Time To Move Both Big Men
Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum: It May Be Time To Move Both Big MenHarry How/Getty Images

It’s time, Lakers fans.

Time to blow up the ship.

I know those words are hard to hear—come on, you’re in denial and you just don’t want to admit it. 

This proud franchise is hanging by a proverbial thread and it’s time to batten down the hatches, jettison the excess baggage and prepare for the future. 

The Lakers and their fans live for championships—they expect to compete for one every year. I get that, but the team as it looks today is not going to get the job done—it is that simple.

Why do you think management was ready to ship Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom out of town in order to bring Chris Paul to the Lakers? Because they realize that other teams (think Oklahoma City, Chicago, Portland, Memphis and now even the Clippers) are getting younger and quicker and making it tough on veteran clubs like theirs to compete.

If you had asked me a month ago if I felt the Lakers should offer Gasol and Bynum to Orlando to get Dwight Howard, I would have hesitated and probably said no.

Today, I think you do whatever it takes (short of sending Kobe Bryant packing) to bring D12 to Los Angeles.  He is the greatest center of his generation and, at 26 (on December 8), will continue to play at a very high level for at least seven or eight more years.

Here's my offer: Gasol, Bynum, Steve Blake, Derrick Caracter, Darius Morris, a draft pick and three Laker Girls in exchange for Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson, the soon-to-be 30-year-old point guard who plays at a high level—though I would still do the deal if Orlando says no to that piece.  

I would then use the amnesty clause to get rid of Metta World Peace and his $6.8 million contract.

Does it look like the Lakers would be giving up too much? I argue that they certainly could build a team of the future around Howard and a cast of young players, all mentored by the 33-year-old Bryant, who, despite his current wrist injury, will continue to play and play well for another two or three years, maybe more.

So maybe such a deal would initially decimate the team’s frontcourt, but you have to give up something to get something. Being without Odom and Gasol certainly would put a dent in that position, but having Howard in the middle will only make young players like Josh McRoberts and Devin Ebanks that much better.

And if the team can’t trade for a suitable point guard, I think Brown should give one of his two rookies (assuming they are still on the roster) an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and use Derek Fisher as a backup. 

Former superstar point guard Gilbert Arenas could certainly fill in as a temporary stopgap measure—last I heard, he was playing pickup games somewhere and waiting for an NBA phone to ring.

Management might even consider sending Gasol or Bynum to a team like Minnesota, who should have a high lottery pick in the June draft. Center Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) represents the future—he could be a cornerstone to the franchise for years. That would be Plan B.

Sometimes you just need to blow up a team, reboot and reload with the future in mind.  Look at how long it took the Lakers to rebuild after the Showtime Era of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and company came to a close.

I think the time has come again. The Lakers lost out on getting Chris Paul. They made a huge mistake in sending Lamar Odom to Dallas for a bag of peanuts. Yet they still have coveted assets in Bynum and Gasol.

The future is waiting to happen. It's time.