After three straight trips to the NBA Finals the Los Angeles Lakers season ended last week as they were swept in their second round series by the Dallas Mavericks. Needless to say the news was not received well in the Los Angeles area as the season did not live up to the team’s or their fan’s expectations. Before the series against the Mavericks was even over, former Lakers great Magic Johnson said that it was time for massive changes on the club’s roster. With it looking more likely that Lakers coach Phil Jackson will actually retire before next season will the team decide to blow up the roster during this off-season?
The roster for Los Angeles was filled with older players during this season with four of their five starters being at least 30 years old. Derek Fisher is 36 while Bryant is now 32 and has been playing in the Association since right out of high school. Ron Artest is 31 and Pau Gasol is currently 30. Only center Andrew Bynum at 23 still has his peak years ahead of him and he may be the most tradable asset that Los Angeles has on their roster.
The team’s biggest weakness may be at the point guard and small forward slots as the tandem of Fisher and Steve Blake at the point and Ron Artest and Matt Barnes at small forward did not really get the job done this season. Fisher’s best days are long since passed while Blake never really seemed to acclimate himself with the Lakers this year. Ron Artest was a big contributor for Los Angeles last season but his play left a lot to be desired this year.
If I were sitting in Lakers General Manager’s Mitch Kupchack’s chair I would be looking to deal Bynum this summer. In my opinion Los Angeles is a better team with Gasol and Lamar Odom starting than if Bynum starts the game at center. Although Bynum is fragile he does have talent and could help the Lakers acquire some help to firm up some of the team’s current weaknesses. Most likely Ron Artest will be with another team starting in the fall and Los Angeles might be able to get value in return for trading him as well.
The team still has three quality players in Bryant, Gasol and Odom. Now they have to start bringing in some younger and more athletic bodies to help them get back to where they want to be next year. Most likely that will be the focus of the team as they head into this summer.