One of the hardest things to do in sports is admit when time is up. For the Los Angeles Lakers, time may have run out. Dwight Howard appears to be on the verge of signing with anyone but L.A. He has a meeting with the team scheduled, but it would appear to be just a formality. The league’s best center appears to be scared of the bright lights of Hollywood.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and his team must decide what is the best long-term direction for the team — should they rebuild or reload?
For most any other team, they would do well to start the rebuilding process, but this is Hollywood. The Lakers are not allowed to have five-year plans. The team must act now.
The first thing on the Lakers offseason agenda must be letting go of Mike D’Antoni. When D’Antoni’s offense is run correctly, there is nothing better to watch in basketball, but to fix this team, management has to go away from the style of play he would like.
The team should keep Kobe Bryant and allow him to come back next season and see what he has left. However, the team should amnesty Steve Nash. Bryant is due $30 million, but it’s only one season, Nash’s deal is for two more seasons. He showed last season his body cannot take the rigors of the NBA season any longer. He also showed when healthy his impact on the floor has greatly diminished.
The team has been rumored to be looking at Monta Ellis, and that could work in an off the bench role, or perhaps a starter role while Bryant works his way back.
The team could also look in to signing David West and have him play the power forward position. The big offseason acquisition would then be Josh Smith. Smith could play the small forward position and learn from Bryant how to be more serious about the game.
That leaves the point guard position. The Minnesota Timberwolves have a roster full of point guards. Someone like Luke Ridnour could come in and stabilize the position for a season. C.J. Watson is looking to opt out of his Brooklyn Nets contract and the Lakers could pair the two and be solid at point guard for a year.
Once Bryant comes back the starting five would be, Gasol at center, West at power forward, Smith at small forward, Bryant at shooting guard, and Ridnour at point guard. The lineup is not the Showtime Lakers but they would definitely make the playoffs.
The question then becomes, who is the best fit for coaching this team? Their old coach of course!
Not Phil Jackson, but Bernie Bickerstaff should get the job.
Laughter maybe the initial reaction to Bickerstaff being the fit for the job, but when he had the reigns of the team Bryant was happy. “He’s (Bickerstaff) getting the F*** out of the way,” Bryant said. For all the credit Jackson gets for being a great coach, and he is, one of the things he is known for is letting his team figure things out when things aren’t working. He doesn’t over coach his players and neither does Bickerstaff.
Bickerstaff would be the best of both worlds, he would be cheap and the best player likes how he coaches.
Players in the NBA hold teams hostage, often. Howard held the Orlando Magic hostage for over a year and when he left they had nothing to show for it. The Lakers have a chance to change the norm in the league. The supposed future of the franchise is about to leave and if they execute correctly they won’t miss a beat.
In his playing days, Mitch Kupchak was a role player, now as the team’s general manager, they need him to be a star.