I’m in no position to really tell anyone what to do–much less professional NBA players–but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway and hand out assignments for certain Lakers players over the summer:
Kobe Bryant (Signed thru 2014): Just get healthy. I don’t have to tell Kobe much (if anything), because I know he’s going to approach his rehab the way he’s approached his entire career–with a relentless drive and passion.
Pau Gasol (Signed thru 2014): I’m one of the people who really hopes the Lakers don’t trade away Pau Gasol this summer. In either event, Pau should simply focus on getting healthy and improve his conditioning. A season ago, he totaled the second most minutes among the whole league, and then played with the Spanish National Team over the summer. Minutes certainly caught up to Gasol as he suffered from tendinosis–a chronic, degenerative form of tendinitis–all season long. According to Mark Medina of InsideSocal.com, Pau may consider receiving a platelet-rich therapy similar to the one Kobe Bryant underwent two summers ago in Germany.
Additionally, I’d like to see Gasol work hard on his strength and conditioning this summer and try to emulate what Tim Duncan has done at age 37. Duncan had this to say after the Spurs eliminated the Lakers on Sunday, via the Los Angeles Times:
“He’s as skilled as there are big men out there. He can do just about everything. … I don’t see why he doesn’t have many years left in him.”
Duncan slimmed down and appeared to find the fountain of youth during the 2012-2013 season, so there’s certainly hope for the highly skilled Pau Gasol, 32, to do the same.
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Dwight Howard (Free Agent): The biggest question this summer will be whether Dwight Howard will re-sign with the Lakers or not. Regardless, Howard has a lot to work on this summer. First, he needs to get healthy and get his explosiveness back. A player who’s always relied on his superior athleticism, Howard certainly looked all too human this season and needs to get back some of what once made him Superman.
Similarly, because of how mortal he looked this season, he needs to develop his post game a bit more as well. As Shaquille O’Neal pointed out on TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” Howard simply doesn’t have a go-to move. O’Neal admitted himself that he often faced players with much better footwork and more moves than him, but he accepted that he was a “power player” and developed a few post moves that allowed him to utilize his power more. Simply put, this is what Howard needs to do. He’s likely never going to become a Hakeem Olajuwon or a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but he can certainly learn a move or two from those guys.
Steve Nash (Signed thru 2015): I really feel bad for Steve Nash and how the season played out for him. He was certainly a liability on the defensive end, and his ability to orchestrate an offense looked limited this season, whether due to injury or age (39) or both. However, his greatest asset to the Lakers this season was his potent offense; his shooting never failed him. Nash simply needs to get healthy and come back as strong as possible.
It’s no secret that Nash works extremely hard in the offseason while trying to get his body in the best possible condition for the grueling NBA season, so I’m sure he’ll do just that. At the same time, conditioning can only offset age to a certain extent, and it will be up to Lakers’ management and the coaching staff to find ways to limit his minutes to approximately 28 per game during the regular season.
Metta World Peace (Player Option): Here’s another “get healthy” note. World Peace miraculously came back from a meniscus injury just 12 days after surgery. However, he was nowhere near top form. World Peace actually started out the season in great shape and was a solid contributor early on, but then faltered throughout after battling with various injuries.
There’s no telling if he’ll be back with the Lakers next season, but I certainly wish World Peace all the best. He’s given Lakers fans some great moments, and it would be sad to see him go on such a low note.
When healthy, World Peace can truly be a game-changing player as we’ve all seen. The Lakers may look to get younger and more athletic at his position though, and the amnesty option is highly feasible at this point.
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