Laker fans, we need some perspective here.
First, let’s keep celebrating the fact that we won a title, because it is so hard to win one in this day and age that we really need to take a moment to embrace something that other team’s fans would die for.
Second, freak out….now. I’m not saying you should riot in the streets or anything (although some of you already have apparently while you celebrated,) but the fact of the matter is, that championship might be the last one we win in a very long time.
As morbid as it might sound, the death of pop icon Michael Jackson was the greatest thing that ever happened to the Laker front office. That is because while the Spurs, Celtics, Magic, Mavs, and Cavs all stocked up with better players and the Nuggets and Blazers at least kept their core together, the Lakers have done...none of those.
Don’t give me the Ron Artest signing as a good move. It was secretly a “oh my god we are screwed” move. It was done to intrigue Phil Jackson and replace Trevor Ariza.
Ariza by the way was a huge loss. Don’t under estimate that loss for a second. He is young and had a very small basketball ego. Ariza could explode for 18 points once every two weeks which sounds like something small, but remember that the Lakers never ran any plays for him! Those were all huge points scored within the flow of the offense without disrupting anyone else’s rhythm. You think Artest can submit his ego to that?
Don’t get me wrong. Artest has the potential to be great for the Lakers and add an era of toughness to LA, but let’s not pretend he isn’t a huge question mark. With Ariza you knew what you were getting, and you were seeing him improve with every game. He was a great young piece to have as the Lakers tried to return to the finals for a third straight year. Artest on the other hand is not that guy. He can’t defend the quicker swing men as well as Ariza and he probably won’t get any better than he is right now on offense.
So basically, the Lakers could have gotten a little bit better, a lot worse, or stayed exactly the same. We have no idea right now, but if I had to bet any money on it is that the Lakers probably got a little bit better, but thanks to Artest’s personality, everyone will lie and say they got much better.
Either way, the small forward position is irrelevant if the Lakers cannot resign Lamar Odom. If the Lakers cannot resign Odom, they might as well start planning their vacations for after the second round of the playoffs. That is because it means Josh “The Triangle Offense is Too Hard for Me” Powell becomes the first big man off the bench. If Gasol or Bynum gets hurt (and we all know Bynum has at least 15 games penciled in already that he will be skipping because his ankle will get sprained after he trips over 5 guys or something during some early season game,) then Powell starts. If that happens, just buy the 2009 Finals on DVD, because the season will then nose dive.
Speaking of the Lakers not resigning Odom; is there anything more ridiculous? Give him a 30 million dollar contract for 3 years. Who doesn’t turn that down? By the way don’t start talking about Odom being inconsistent or his stats sucking. Odom was told during his contract year that he was going to have to come off the bench. He was going to have to sacrifice for the good of the team and check his ego at the door. Well, he did all of that and the Lakers won a championship. They also made a boat load of money along the way so why not give Odom his fair share? Don’t lose him because he wants a contract two million dollars more than you think is fair.
Even if we do resign Odom (and we really better do that,) all that does is return us to the status quo from last year. Last year was not a great year for the NBA. The Lakers won in a year where Lebron James by himself (at least on offense) was able to win 60 games and where the Celtics bench was good enough to get them to the second round. They played in the finals a team that lived and died on the three pointer, but thanks to poor competition were able to live until the finals. So while every championship is precious and awesome, there really isn’t a lot to feel great about in terms of looking forward to defending that championship.
An overlooked disaster was the resigning of Shannon Brown to join the Laker roster. His resigning looks great on paper because he is somewhat young, athletic, and can guard the quicker point guards in the NBA, but what he also does is signal the end of Jordan Farmar ever becoming a decent starter in this league. You think Farmar is going to care about becoming great when he has to fight for minutes just to back up Derek Fisher this year? No, he is just going to try and focus on being good enough to beat out Brown, which basically means that the Lakers won’t have a good point guard for at least the next 5 years.
The worst part of it all is that these are all understandable moves if no one else did anything. Last season all the good teams stood pat and tried to win with what they had. This season everyone has gone out and rolled the dice on someone to try to get them that ring. Despite this, I have to write this type of an article just to plead with my team to hurry up and resign Odom, and all of this is just to return to a status quo that one could argue 4 or 5 teams have already risen about.
To make matters even worse, no one cares because the title of ‘defending champions’ is going to be placed at the start of every article or news feed for the Lakers. So basically, the average (aka not super hardcore) basketball fan will have no idea that the Lakers are in huge trouble.
Now, a case can be made that it is way too early to panic. To all of those people, screw you. I am a hardcore, follow the Lakers every single day, kind of guy. I’m guessing a lot of people who are reading this are too. If we sense that we’re going to be wasting the next 12 months of our lives following a team whose ownership is content with a team that’s secretly screwed, then we have every right to panic. On of the greatest moments for a sports fan is seeing a team full of meh players morph into a championship squads. One of the worst moments is seeing that squad then fall apart.
Well, it feels like it is happening Laker fans. So, celebrate last year as much as you want right now, because we could be doomed.