L.A. Lakers: What Moves Do They Make This Offseason?
The L.A. Lakers' season is done, and now the only thing left to do is look toward the future of this storied franchise.
Much speculation has already taken place as to what should be done with this Laker squad before next season, including team vice president Magic Johnson suggesting that the current team should be "blown up." While that remains an option, not everyone agrees that it's the right one.
The truth of the matter is something must be done, and my guess is that we will be seeing lots of changes in Laker Land before they play another game. The only question now is what changes need to be made to turn this Laker squad back in to a well-oiled machine?
The obvious change coming their way is at the coaching helm. Phil Jackson has reiterated that he is finished coaching, and now a replacement has to be found. Every other possible change is subjective at this point. If you asked 1,000 Laker fans what needs to be changed, you would get nearly 1,000 different answers.
I am here today to give you my opinion on what needs to be done with the current Laker roster. I feel that if the following changes are made, then rumors of the Lakers fall from dominance will be greatly exaggerated.
Brian Shaw has come a long way in his life up to this point, and his next task may be taking the reigns from Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.
No one knows for sure who's going to take over as head coach, but Shaw seems to be the "go-to" thought in most people's minds.
Shaw is familiar with both the system and the players. If that's the case, then why would the Laker brass choose anyone else? Shaw may or may not be into the whole "Zen" approach, but you can't really think that the results would be much different. The players know and respect Shaw, and with time would be able to adapt to any changes he may want to implement.
One thing is for sure here: The change needs to be made swiftly in order for things to turn out the best way possible. The sooner the players can get used to the new way things will be handled, the sooner they can start to gel again as a squad.
Phil Jackson may no longer be the coach of the Lakers, but if Shaw is selected as his successor, his teachings will surely live on.
Athletic Point Guard
I don't care how clutch he is at this point; Fisher must be replaced.
I still think he can be valuable coming off of the bench for Los Angeles, but this business of him starting in today's league needs to stop. Teams today are armed with super-athletic point guards that have made it their hobby to torch guys like Fisher.
While he remains valuable for his locker-room presence and ability to hit big shots, what the Lakers really need is an athletic guard who can stay in front of opposing offenses.
Fisher has never been able to contribute enough on the offensive end and if the Lakers do well in replacing him with someone who can contribute often, they will rely less on their top scorers. It's hard for me to suggest getting rid of someone who has done so much for us in the past, but for the Lakers, it's something they must do.
Athletic Small Forward
By now you have noticed a theme of athleticism. This is because it's what the Lakers need to add to their roster the most.
The Artest experiment in Los Angeles should be considered a success based on how he was able to help in 2010, but people should also realize that it's over now. Ron Artest is not as quick as he used to be, his scoring continues to go down and he is failing to keep up with other more athletic small forwards in the league.
His backup is not exactly blowing our minds either.
Matt Barnes was brought in to add grit and toughness, but all I have seen from him are missed shot attempts. While he has been able to guard other forwards from time to time, he has been unable to score consistently.
What the Lakers really need is the complete package. I'm not saying they have the right assets to acquire someone like Andre Iguodala, but that's the kind of player they should be pursuing: someone young with athleticism to spare and the ability to give you 16-20 points per game.
Los Angeles should be able to form some kind of package with Artest, Barnes and possibly Fisher to get themselves an upgrade at the small forward position. If they can find a way to inject youth and scoring into the 1 and 3 spots, Los Angeles would quickly resemble what most up-and-coming teams are accomplishing roster-wise.
The Man in the Middle
The Lakers have been high on what Bynum has been doing on the court lately (besides the whole "taking the shirt off" episode), but what decision are they going to make regarding his and their future?
This is still the young center who has proven that he can put up double-doubles as easy as he can go down with a season-crippling injury. He was a force in this year's short playoff run, but one has to wonder how often he'll be available to repeat this feat.
Bynum more than anything has proven himself to be a double-edged sword. You can gamble on his ability to make a big impact on the post game, but you assume the risk of losing a huge part of your game should he go down.
The Lakers also have questions looming with their forward Pau Gasol.
Will he remain the soft player who got tossed around in this year's postseason?
Will he return to the gritty forward who left his mark on two championship runs?
Can we put him in the middle if we get rid of Bynum?
In my opinion, Gasol will be fine after a summer of reflecting on what happened. He knows his game regressed and I'm confident that he can correct it before the next season.
That being said, I do not think L.A. should put him in the middle to replace Bynum. He is a natural forward, not a center. Whatever the Lakers choose to do with Bynum, they better plan on getting a big man in return.
Who should they keep? Who should they deal?
One thing is for sure: They need to lock up Shannon Brown.
Brown represents the direction the Lakers need to go in and he continues to improve right before our eyes. Brown is the youth, athleticism and potential that the Lakers need. They just need it at two/three more positions. He has proven valuable on the fast break, can knock down jump shots and flat-out plays with passion while he's on the floor.
As for the rest of the bench, my advice to Buss is to stage a fire sale. Steve Blake is a good enough player, but he seemingly made zero impact on the Lakers. Matt Barnes has a good defensive presence on the floor, but he lacks the complete package that L.A. needs while the stars are resting.
Then we have Luke Walton. Don't even get me started with Luke.
What I will say about Luke is that he's been a non-factor for years now, and L.A. needs to sever those ties in order to improve the integrity of the bench. Los Angeles is on the right track with Shannon Brown, but they need to shed a good deal of dead weight before they will ever be able to properly spell their starters.