Despite Faint Glimmer of Hope, Lakers Must Look to Future

It’s been about twelve hours since the end of Game 3 in Dallas and I still feel the same way I felt going into the game. The Lakers never had a chance. For a team that was supposed to cruise to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year it seems that the magic has finally run out. It will be a disappointing end to a season that started with great promise. All the goals that the team had before them back in October have crumbled like a house of cards. Phil Jackson will not get his fourth three-peat. Kobe Bryant won’t get his second. The Lakers will remain (at least) one championship behind the Celtics on the all-time list.

As I tried to collect my thoughts to put together an article for last night’s game the word I kept coming across was fitting. It was fitting that Bryant would come up just short of Michael Jordan’s title record. It was fitting that Jackson finally suffered a debilitating post-season exit. It was fitting that a team that flirted with disaster for so many years finally went down in flames.

The Lakers are a team that has been described in many different ways. Some say they’re bi-polar. Others claim they’re just lazy. I think the best way to accurately describe them is inconsistent. Painfully inconsistent. With the talent on the roster there’s no question they should be one of the last teams standing, instead of facing a sweep at the hands of a lower seed in the second round. There will undoubtedly be disappointment and questions surrounding the team as we transition into the off-season. Trade rumors will fly like an uncaged hummingbird. People will begin to question things that were previously set in stone. And, as the end of the Phil Jackson tenure finally arrives these questions will be appropriate.

While the Lakers team will most likely feature the same core players next season the atmosphere will be different. Even though Bryant will still be the focal point of the roster, it will be a team we’re not used to watching. The Lakers’ front office hasn’t dropped any hints on who is being considered to replace Jackson as the next head coach. Whoever it is, they’re in for a tough road. The Lakers championship window is closing rapidly, and many (myself included) believe Mark Cuban’s Mavericks just slammed it shut.

Even if Los Angeles is able to play at a high level next year the following season is still questionable. I think it’s fair to say that Bryant’s career is now clearly on the downslide. He’s no longer able to carry the team over the course of an entire game, let alone an entire season. The thousands of hours that Bryant has spent sacrificing his body for the sake of the game has finally caught up with him. No matter how hard he tries, Bryant will never be able to overcome the natural course of time.

So the question for the Lakers becomes this: who becomes the next centerpiece for Los Angeles? Who is dubbed the heir apparent to Bryant and will carry the torch once Bryant ultimately moves on? Some say it’s Andrew Bynum. I’m not convinced. While at times Bynum has certainly shown an ability to control both ends of the floor, he has yet to play a complete season without missing significant time due to an injury. Every time he goes to the floor or lands awkwardly there is a quick sense of panic, as nobody knows when his body will give out on him next. And, even when he is healthy he has been wildly inconsistent. Despite Jim Buss’ apparent unwavering faith in the young center, if the Lakers want the post-Kobe era to bring championships they need a more reliable star than Andrew Bynum.

This of course brings to light all the trade rumors that have been so callously thrown about over the last few months. Names like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have been dropped as if the ultimate acquisition of one of these players is inevitable. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The Lakers sacrificed a lot of their long term plans to win the last two championships. The team is bogged down with heavy contracts for the next three to four years. To make matters worse, the current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at the end of the season. Even if a lockout occurs, ultimately a new CBA will be drafted that could very well limit the luxury cap options that Los Angeles has taken advantage of over the past decade.

If that is indeed the case the chance to snag one of those top free agents is slim at best. The Lakers would be looking at trades as the only means to bring a star player in. This could be difficult since the only real strong trade asset they have is Bynum. The Lakers have been hesitant to move Bynum up until now. Ultimately their decision to keep him or not will dictate the success of the next era of Laker basketball.

While many people may not agree with looking ahead while the Lakers are still technically alive, it’s a situation that is impossible to ignore. Whether you like it or not this particular group of Lakers has run its course. They were one of the most successful teams in NBA history, and it’s important not to forget that. But the second you stop to reflect instead of moving forward and thinking of the next move that needs to be made you become a bystander, watching success race past your window. You may think I’m being too harsh. I just like to be prepared.

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Just believe that lakers can win 4 straight don’t take it as it is over stand up lakers nation

  • I know we need to look to the future but seriously this guy sounds like we are done. Have you seen the age of the Mavs even? Seems like when we lose everyone is quick to trash talk. Kobe has been injured, maybe rest is what he needs and I disagree….he’s not done yet.

  • IT DON’T MATTER TO ME WIN OR LOOSE SUNDAY LA LAKERS ARE THE BEST. LAKER FAN FOR LIFE

  • It amazes me when we are winning then when we lose everyone takes a shot, when shaq left did the fans thing we would win a championship, some did some didn’t, but we did, we should still support our team with good grace and build from there, we will rise again Dallas capitalised on a lot of laker mistakes, credit to them they have done what they need to do, we have had a good run and the team has been great , let’s not forget
    That. We had exceptional teams and watched beautiful basketball it’s time to show gratitude and dignity and respect to brothers that got us there. I love my lakers and I am grateful.
    that ever, we have done well and some teams don’t recover in a few years let alone decades, some have never won a championship, we have been to countless finals and won some lost some we have done well and I love the lakers we must lose with grace and stand by our team, I am a dedicated laker fan from London love you all and I am hurting too

  • The thing that is annoying is the blind optimism that my fellow Lakers fan has. I’ve been watchong bball for 20 something years. Do the eye test: what have the Lakers done in this series that gives u hope we can win 4 in a row? Especially against a team as good as Dallas? Let’s be real guys: Dallas is playing mentally at a championship level. We r not. This is why we’re in danger of being swept. The mental mistakes r what has done this team in. The writer is RIGHT we need MAJOR changes to the roster for thr future…we have no bench. Period. Kobe can’t be Kobe anymore every game. It started game 7 of last year’s Finals. Gasol? Gasol who? I’m renaming him Houdini because I’ve never seen a disapperaing act like he’s pulled these playoffs. We have no point guard. Any team with a decent one anihilates us. We need to rebuild a champion. The other teams have caught up and surpassed us. I like this article because it’s realistic. I’m not shocked we lost last night. I saw halfway thru game 2 we were a bit overmatched. It’s reality. What has made our franchise so great over these decades is that we usually have a front office who recognizes what the writer in this article is pointing out and execute on it…not having blind optimism.

  • Sorry, what I meant to say was that I totally agree with the writer. Lakers will need to rebuild. It is difficult to stay on top year in and year out. On the bright side, the Lakers franchise will always attract players (who wouldn’t). As long as it’s being run by former Laker players in the front office, they will find the best talent around. Get ready for the Blake Griffin, Russel Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love sweepstakes.

  • I can’t believe how ungrateful and spoiled the Lakers’ fans are. Watching them boo their lungs out during the last loss in LA was embarrassing — and I’m not even a Lakers fan. The synergy isn’t there — but I hardly think the current squad is washed up. Slumps happen — it just so happens that this time the slump is during the playoffs. Think of all those winning streaks the Lakers had this past season. Yea, they were mixed in with losing streaks, but they still ended up with a winning record and another trip to the playoffs. You want a dose of reality, be a Warriors fan. We continue to pack the Oracle to watch them lose. We have a front office that trades away talent faster than we can grow it (we have to grow it because we can’t attract free agents on our own), and have had strings of loser coaches (“winningest coach” doesn’t cut it when none of those wins has been a championship). We make it to the playoffs once every 20 years and don’t get past the first round. I’d be happy seeing the Warriors just make it to the playoffs even if they went down in four. There are 30 teams in the NBA. Calculate the odds of winning 3 championships in a row. Calculate the odds of even making it to the second round of the playoffs. Be proud of your team for bringing you post-seasons and the championships that they have.

  • Agee good take the lakers look done all year we were just wishful thinking. Lakers 4 life

  • Kill buzz much!! I couldn’t agree with everyone’s comments more. Who cares about the future it’s now we are talking about and laker nation is the most loyal. Of course we know an era is coming to an end but I highly doubt if this season end good or bad we are done. Lakers are the most successful team because of its amazing owners. I have full faith in the Buss clan that the future is only bright. Not just that but first round picks don’t really matter to us we find our own diamond in the rough.

  • Dont call yourself a Laker fan when you can’t even support your team during bad times. True Laker fan have blind optimisam as you so call it. so go bandwangon on Heat because Laker for life means Laker for life.

  • Well said win or lose LAKER4LIFE we’ve had a great run we have 16 a lot of teams has NONE so we still end on TOP…. LOVING MY LAKERS!!!!

  • The Lakers do need to look forward to the future, and right now in our immediate future is the playoff series, which this Lakers team could easily be the team to come back from an 0-3 deficit.

  • this laker team like the boston are aging. We need to find the talented player around. i know the dr. buss will fix this matter. and trade player for the future of this team. please dr. buss give kobe bryant one more championship so that he and michael jordan are even. i think pau gasol did not want to play for this team anymore. Bring SUPERMAN to the City of Angels.

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