Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Lakers Without Dwight Howard

Four Out Of Five... Isn't Enough
Four points to keep Laker Fan off the ledge...

1) You get to keep Pau Gasol now. Perhaps this doesn't seem like a very good thing, given how bad Gasol looked last year, and that he's going to make over $19 million next year... but keep in mind that Pau is 32 and wants another paycheck. Pair him with a somehow healthy Steve Nash, and you've got much of what you were signing up for in 2012-13.

2) Your roster and franchise is going to spend the entire off-season fueled by hate, which is to say, the only emotion that Kobe Bryant still recognizes. Don't expect this team to sleep through preseason and the first half of next year, like they did last year. They've got stuff to prove, especially now that everyone knows they are the second-best team in town. Given how old the roster is, they need something like this. A lot.

3) Free agent season isn't over, folks. Sign Josh Smith tomorrow, and you are a better team than you had with Howard, especially in the Stretch 4 Era of NBA matchups. Ink David West to team with Gasol, and you've got two wildly crafty low-post threats. Nikola Pekovic is a good chunk of what Howard is. Hell, maybe you can somehow convince Andrew Bynum to care again, or get Greg Oden's knee to regenerate. The market has not taken all of the big men off the board.

4) Nash and Bryant and Laker Mystique should still be able to get *someone* to take their money. Just because the bright lights of Hollywood were too much for Howard doesn't mean that no one else is going to come to town... and as a lifelong Laker Hater, I'm also kind of convinced that the NBA isn't going to allow this team to well and truly fail.

And now, three points to put them back on.

1) Big men are still on the market for a reason. As the Heat have shown in back to back championships, it's not a big man dominant game any more. What the market has raced for is shooters, with previously unheralded and/or uninspiring guys like JJ Redick, Kyle Korver, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger making bank. The Lake Show still has Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake and Metta World Peace to hoist from the arc, but those guys just don't make enough of them to be positive players...

2) This was a *bad* defensive team with Howard. It could be a historically awful one without him. Nash wasn't good at defense in his prime; now, he might be the worst in the league there. Bryant tries, but at his age and offensive usage rate, you aren't getting more than a top-10 player. Gasol was never a shot blocker or ace, and at 32 with the desire to put up numbers for another contract, he's not going to become one. World Peace has the rep but not the lateral quicks, and the bench is just awful in this regard. They need Smith something terrible, but one player does not a defense make.

Oh, and your coach is Mike D'Antoni, and his next idea about defense might be his first. And speaking of Seven Seconds To Heave...

3) The organization is broken. Regardless of whether or not you think Mike Brown got shafted, you can't defend starting the year with a guy -- any guy -- who you think so little about as to fire that early into the season. The Howard trade has to be seen now as a full-blown tire fire. The bench signings have been bad for a long time, and they haven't drafted an impact player in forever. If Bryant had a normal aging curve instead of a borderline superhuman one, this franchise would have been dust years ago.

So, to sum up... all is not lost because you lost out on Howard. You could still get Smith, and to a lesser extent West, and make the playoffs next year.

But in terms of winning championships?

All has been lost for a while now.

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