This is an example of the Lakers defense. They allow opposing players into the paint, and none of them are afraid to go right at Dwight Howard, while the Lakers have been having problems producing points in the paint on their end of the court. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Please do not argument with the Sports Editor. That’s like the Lakers continuing to keep this roster together with a head coach who does not seem to care to change anything. It just does not make sense. Illustration by David G. Brown
The Lakers failures make no logical sense. It just does not work, so it is time for change.
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Nothing about this Lakers season makes logical sense. With all of the talent on this roster, how can they be so bad? Winning the title this year was going to be tough, but struggling to make the playoffs? How is that possible?
Kobe Bryant has taken teams with far less talent to the playoffs. So has Steve Nash with the Suns, Dwight Howard with the Magic, Pau Gasol with the Grizzlies, and Metta World Peace with the Pacers, Kings, and Rockets. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has led teams to the post season numerous times.
Winning a title is tough, but in the NBA, where half of the league makes it to the post season, the Lakers making it that far should be a piece of cake.
At mid-season the Lakers are 17-24 with four Hall of Fame players on their roster. To put that into perspective, during the 2005-06 season the Lakers, who surrounded Bryant with the likes of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, and other forgettable names, were 22-19 at the mid-season point, and they went on to make the playoffs.
The season before, which was the first season without Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers had Chucky Atkins at point guard, Chris Mihm at center, and they had to heavily rely on Lamar Odom and a young Caron Butler to support Bryant. That team was also 22-19 at mid-season. If it were not for injuries and a coaching change, they may have made the playoffs as well.
The teams that this current Lakers team are chasing for the final playoff spot do not have anywhere near the talent that the Lakers have. On paper, this makes no sense at all, and even on the court it does not add up. In the NBA, if a team just has two star players, they are going to win more often than not. But the Lakers have lost numerous games to teams with players who the general public has never heard of.
The Lakers make fans jump through hula-hoops to watch them play. From the high cost of ticket prices to making a lot of people change cable television providers just to watch the games at the beginning of the season. And this is how the fan base is repaid?
At some point there needs to be major changes. Too many mistakes have been made, and continuing down this road of failure would be a travesty to these players and the fans.
It is pretty obvious that the Lakers made a major mistake in hiring head coach Mike D’Antoni, who appears to be extremely reluctant to change. This has been a problem for him for years. With the Suns he was asked to improve their defense, which would have supported their high scoring offense. But he would not do it, so he was fired. His inability to make drastic changes while coaching the Knicks was part of the reason why he was fired from there.
It does not appear that D’Antoni has any plans to change anything, which is a great reason to ditch the guy, but with the money being paid to former coach Mike Brown, and the money that has to be paid to D’Antoni, he is not going anywhere any time soon. And it does not appear that he will make the changes needed to fix this situation.
The only major change that he has made so far was moving Gasol to the bench. That’s his big plan? Moving a guy who helped lead the Lakers to back-to-back titles to the bench? Wow.
The Lakers are going to have to change this roster to fit what D’Antoni is trying to do. It was a mistake to hire D’Antoni because this roster does not come close to matching what he wants to do, so a trade needs to be made, and it is not getting rid of Gasol, who appears to be everybody’s scapegoat.
It may be a tough pill to swallow, but many people are starting to come around to one idea. The Lakers need to trade Howard. Not only because he may leave the Lakers at the end of the season, but to save this current season.
One rumor, and it was just a rumor, was to trade Howard for Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki. That trade would make perfect sense.
The Lakers would lose Howard’s defensive presence, but the Lakers stink on that side of the court, so what are they really missing? D’Antoni wants to run up the scoreboard, but the Lakers are not getting much of anything out of their big men. The best offensive low post player on the Lakers roster is Gasol, but he is playing around the 3-point line. Howard is nowhere near the offensive player that Gasol is in the low post.
When the Lakers won their two titles with Gasol, he was listed at power forward, and that was where he started the game, but Andrew Bynum spent a lot of time on the bench during those championship runs, with Gasol at center and Odom at power forward.
D’Antoni needs a stretch-four. He needs a power forward that can hit the long-range jumper. Gasol can hit that shot, but not well enough.
Trading Howard for Nowitzki would be the answer that the Lakers are looking for offensively. Nowitzki can hit the long range shot as good as anybody in NBA history, and it would move Gasol back to the low post because Howard would be gone.
The combination of Gasol at center and Nowitzki at power forward is much greater, offensively, than the combination of Howard at center and Gasol at power forward. If D’Antoni is just trying to outscore the opponent, then give him the weapons to do so.
The Lakers have a lot of great pieces, but they do not work together. So change is needed right now to make this work.