NBA Rumors: Do the Draft and Free Agency Really Matter for the L.A. Lakers?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  (L-R) Pau Gasol #16, Kobe Bryant #24, Derek Fisher #2 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers run up court in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers' media and fans have joined into the free agency and draft frenzy after polishing up NBA championship number 16 and carefully stowing it away in the trophy case.

We are not yet a week removed from the Lakers' dramatic come from behind victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the NBA Finals, but already our thoughts turn to improving the roster for next season.

The Lakers hold the 43rd and 58th picks in Thursday's upcoming draft, and there are a few reasons why I'm not excited by those two picks.

The glut of underclassmen rushing for the NBA has made it nearly impossible to discern which player is truly NBA ready and this is hard enough to do with the top first round picks, let alone late second rounders.

The talent has been so watered down that any choice is a crap-shoot, and a 43rd or 58th selected player is more likely to end up in the developmental league than on the Lakers' bench.

Any player the Lakers select will be a project, and will not likely provide significant help in Los Angeles' ultimate goal of a three-peat.

Since a three-peat is the goal the core needs to remain intact. The Lakers have a realistic shot at playing in at least four more Finals' series and winning a few more championships.

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A player taken that late in the draft will not help the Lakers reach that goal, which brings me to the team's possible involvement in free agency with the purpose of upgrading their roster.

One of the most impressive aspects about the Lakers' franchise has been their remarkable consistency. There are only two seasons in which they have failed to qualify for the postseason, and they have played in more than half of all Finals series.

Free agency and the trade system has been historically kind to the Lakers, as the Pau Gasol and Ron Artest deals will attest, but how much better can the team really be?

I will admit Los Angeles could use some help at the point guard position, and maybe a little help in the post, but the Lakers should adopt an approach based on who they can afford to lose, rather than what any potential player would bring.

The Lakers have won the past two NBA championships with virtually the same roster. My mantra is if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Derek Fisher were the Lakers' top six players, and if Fisher is resigned there is nothing that can make believe they are not capable of leading Los Angeles back to the Finals.

The major concern from this past season was health, as all of the key members suffered stretches where they were forced to deal with injuries, but the end result was still the same.

Of course health is no guarantee, but it's just as big a gamble to disrupt chemistry by adding a core player as it is to bet on the relative good health of your team for a season.

The odds look stacked against Bynum as he is enduring yet another knee surgery this very afternoon, but can any other player out there really replace what Bynum brings to the table?

The same can be said for any of the core members of the Lakers who each bring their own distinctive qualities to the team, and the formula has been proved on the game's grandest stage over the course of two seasons.

So why tinker with it?

The same train of thought can be applied to the reserves. Even though you can theoretically upgrade that area of the team, who can say how the replacement player will perform in the postseason.

The Lakers would potentially upgrade their talent, but they would downgrade their experience, and the knowledge that young players such as Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic have gained cannot be discounted.

I would still be willing to explore a move with any of the above-mentioned players, because hopefully a playoff series would never fall on the shoulders of any of those players, but I would be hesitant to disrupt the core.

The Lakers find themselves in the envious position of looking down on the NBA while the rest of the league scrambles to keep pace with the two time defending champions.

There will be many deals to be had in the upcoming weeks, but Lakers' management should remember the most important deal could very well be the one you choose to pass on.

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