Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
The Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed in their second round exit of the NBA Playoffs. Panic has somewhat ensued including Pau Gasol‘s name suddenly becoming a hot item on the trade rumors. However, the Lakers do not need to do anything drastic this off-season.
By: David Kay
Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
When the Lakers fell short of their third straight NBA Championship by getting swept out of the post-season by the Mavs, the sky was falling for the franchise. The roster suddenly needed to be blown up, Kobe’s rein was done, and panic set in. Relax. Sure the Lakers were utterly embarrassed in their game four loss to Dallas when they seemingly gave up in the second half, but sudden talk of needing to trade Pau Gasol or doing something drastic is going a bit overboard.
Let’s face it, some of the key players are on the roster are getting up their in age and not as effective as they once were; (i.e. Derek Fisher and Ron Artest.) Kobe is still one of the best in the game but not nearly as dominant as he once was and logged the least minutes of his career since his second year in the league. Gasol’s numbers were consistent with his career averages and Lamar Odom didn’t let being married to the hideous Khloe Kardashian have a negative effect on his game.
Injury issues continued to linger around Andrew Bynum throughout the season, but Bynum was healthy in the post-season making their early exit slightly more head scratching. When he was healthy, Bynum, Gasol, Odom formed one of the best frontcourts in the league.
Perhaps the biggest development of this past season for the Lakers was the changing of the guard at head coach with Phil Jackson coaching his final season in L.A. Jackson led the Lakers to five NBA titles but was forced to step down due to health issues. The Zenmaster cemented his status as one of the best head coaches in league history, but a new era begins with the franchise already naming former Cavs head coach Mike Brown as Jackson’s replacement.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Andrew Bynum
PF: Paul Gasol/Lamar Odom/Derrick Caracter
SF: Ron Artest/Matt Barnes/Luke Walton/Devin Ebanks
SG: Kobe Bryant/#Shannon Brown
PG: Derek Fisher/Steve Blake
#G-Shannon Brown (PO)
C-Theo Ratliff (UFA)
F/C-Joe Smith (UFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $94.8 million
1. Point Guard:
Derek Fisher is a tremendous locker room guy and can still occasionally provide a boost with his ability to knock down triples. Steve Blake is a solid reserve but should nothing more than that. The Lakers could ideally use a play-making point guard who can create for others and take some of the ball-handling responsibility off Kobe’s hands. Lamar Odom does that somewhat in a point forward role, but if L.A. can find a true point guard to help share the load, it would be a great benefit to the team.
2. Depth Up-Front:
It is never a good thing when you bring in players like Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith to help fill the void for frontcourt depth. With both of those guys free agents and probably past their retirement point, the Lakers need to find a true big man to back-up Andrew Bynum who is entering the final year of his contract and battling chronic knee injuries. While Pau Gasol can handle some time at center, he is better off exploiting his mismatch against other power forwards.
3. Adjust to Coaching Change:
Mike Brown was an interesting hire to replace the legendary Phil Jackson. Now a veteran Lakers team that had become accustomed to the coaching style and techniques of Jackson must now adjust to a new man in charge. It will be critical for the team to buy into Brown’s practices or else the ship could be sinking even faster for the Lake Show.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
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CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.