The Los Angeles Lakers completed a very difficult season in a most embarrassing way by getting swept out of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. Now, the organization has to figure out how to remake this team on the fly and try to stay competitive in the stacked Western Conference.
They need to start by firing Mike D’Antoni and hire Byron Scott
DA was too often clueless on how to incorporate his players into the offense, mainly Pau Gasol. Gasol and Howard give the Lakers a huge advantage over most teams with two very good big men, but DA alienated Gasol almost immediately (upon being hired) by benching him rather than working with him.
Antwan Jamison was left out of the playing rotation earlier this season and he complained before DA started to trust him more in the second half of the season.
Byron Scott was recently fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers after failing to improve the team, but he would be an excellent choice for a veteran team like the Lakers. His Laker past would help him bring an air of credibility and he would step into a situation where the talent is plentiful. He never had these kind of players when he took over coaching jobs in New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland.
Talk to and amnesty Kobe
See if Kobe would be willing to be amnestied and come back in the 2014-15 season when they would be able to re-sign him. He would be able to rehab and collect the $30 million owed to him. But, amnestying him would save LA close to $80 million with the new CBA structure. As difficult as it sounds, this needs to be done so that the franchise can make the necessary improvements to be able to sign players and compete.
Most likely, Kobe will want to try and come back by the All-Star break … so in all likelihood he has played his last game with the purple and gold. The Lakers have to consider and ultimately use the amnesty clause to try to help improve the team and ease a huge financial burden.
I think he would probably sign with the Chicago Bulls to give them a pretty solid backcourt, even if Kobe won’t be the same player he once was.
Re-sign Howard and Earl Clark
Howard is the centerpiece to the future of the franchise. He is the best rebounding and defensive big man in the game and he is eager to prove he can carry the load on offense. He has made numerous comments about playing inside-out and wants to be the one to carry the torch for this great franchise.
Clark has stated he wants to remain with the Lakers, even if it means taking less money to do so. The Lakers should bring him back and play him at the small forward position. Their biggest weakness this past season was the lack of a perimeter defender. At 6-11, Clark would give them an excellent defender and he would upgrade a weakness. He’s too tall for most SF’s and he has the speed needed to keep up with most wing players; kind of like when Lamar Odom was playing small forward early in his career with the Los Angeles Clippers. Not that Clark is the scorer or passer Odom was. But, his height advantage and length give him a clear advantage over other small forwards.
They also need to decide what to do with Gasol
Do they try and trade Gasol to help improve the bench or keep Gasol and let his deal come off the books after next season. It all depends on what happens with DA, but I think a new head coach would work with the two big men and try and take advantage of their strengths. Gasol’s passing skills are a huge advantage and I think he actually played well over the last few weeks of the season. I’d keep him.
The Lakers have the ability to rebuild on the fly and still be a factor, but it all hinges on what they do with the head coach and Kobe.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org