Kobe Bryant tweeted this last week to his four and a half million followers. While it is possible that the Lakers will come back strong next year, without some major changes, it is very unlikely. As the biggest Lakers fan in the history of life, I decided to put my GM hat on and fix this mess. It’s simple really; the Lakers can be in the championship hunt by next season with five simple steps.
1. Fire Mike D’Antoni. Hire John Calipari.
I’m sure no one saw this one coming. MDM is an average coach. He takes great teams, and makes them average; he takes terrible teams, and makes them average; and he takes average teams, and keeps them average. It’s not rocket science; the man is nothing short of average. The Lakers need a coach that can relate to the players, and D’Antoni just isn’t that guy anymore. It will be tough prying Calipari away from the Wildcats, but if any team can lure a guy like Calipari, it is the Los Angeles Lakers.
2. Resign Pau Gasol to the contract he deserves.
The Lakers signed Pau Gasol in 2008, and then cruised their way to three straight NBA finals appearances. When healthy, the Kobe-Pau pick-and-roll has been unstoppable. Gasol’s career with the Lakers, thus far, has been nothing short of legendary. The least that he deserves is another chance at a playoff run alongside Kobe Bryant. By resigning Pau Gasol, the Lakers will also be making a statement to the rest of the NBA that they take good care of their star players.
3. Trade the kitchen sink for Kevin Love.
Kevin Love is arguably the best Power Forward in the league right now. There is no guy in the league that can fill up the stat sheet like Love can. Signing Kevin Love would give the Lakers a solid rebounding big man who stretches the floor. The only other power forward that comes close to rebounding and scoring as efficiently as Love is Chris Bosh, and just think about how many games the Heat have won just because of the way Bosh spreads the floor.
4. Keep Kendall Marshall, Nick Young and Jordan Hill.
Kendall Marshall appeared in 54 games for the Lakers this year, registering only 29 minutes per game. Despite playing more than seven minutes a game less than John Wall, Marshall is averaging as many assists as Wall, while turning the ball over less. Some might argue that Marshall’s play should be attributed to D’Antoni’s system, but Marshall has shown tremendous growth this year, and he is only 22 years old. Nick Young and Jordan Hill have also undeniably earned spots on this roster for next year, and both deserve a chance to come back.
5. Sign a solid small forward via free agency.
Sign Luol Deng. He is a proven winner, a great defensive player, and an unrestricted free agent. With a solid coach and a complete overhaul to the roster, a solid defensive minded player like Deng can really be the difference in how far this team goes. Deng would also be a great help for the Lakers in the playoffs, as he is a good match-up for Kevin Durant.
If the Lakers can do these five things, I am guaranteeing at least a 50-win season. Every aspect the Lakers have struggled with this past season is solved in these five simple steps.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Steve Nash/Kendall Marshall