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Lakers fans believe offseason plans will largely determine championship chances next season

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant collides with Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday . Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011 The fact-finding mission has just begun.

The Lakers finished their series of exit interviews this week, allowing players to say their farewells to Phil Jackson, receive performance feedback and give Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak morsels of information that will help him understand what exactly led to the team's unraveling in a Western Conference semifinal sweep by the Dallas Mavericks. 

There's still plenty of work ahead with Kupchak planning to meet with owner Jerry Buss and executive Jim Buss to finalize their coaching search, discuss whether they want to keep the triangle and what changes they need to make to the current Lakers' roster. Clearly, the Lakers will have no problem staying busy during a time when they're usually playing basketball and then holding a championship parade.

"One thing I learned in L.A., every offseason is pretty wild here," said Lakers forward Luke Walton, who's been with the team for eight seasons. "There's never really any dead offseasons as a Laker. I've been lucky enough to make it through all of them. It's crazy around here. And I think this summer is building up to be the craziest."

It sure will be. If you ask Lakers fans, at least based on an informal survey, 59.13% of them believe the Lakers' chances to return to the championship level will largely hinge on what the team does this offseason. Obviously, the Lakers are always accustomed to changing their roster even after title runs, but it's telling how different the optimism is regarding the team's future as opposed to fan expectations entering the 2010-2011 season. Fresh off back-to-back title runs, the Lakers kept their main lineup, secured Hall of Fame coaching (Phil Jackson), kept veteran leadership (Derek Fisher) and attracted reserve spark plugs (Steve Blake, Matt BarnesTheo RatliffShannon BrownDevin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter). It wasn't exactly unrealistic of 57% of fans to expect the Lakers to three-peat.

Instead, the Lakers lost in embarrassing fashion by losing in a four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks, an effort 38.3% of fans grade a C. There are plenty of reasons for this unraveling, according to Lakers fans. The plurality of voters (26.7%) blame this all on the Lakers' complacency, but there are more reasons than just the team simply not trying. The whole "trust issue" that Lakers center Andrew Bynum brought up remained prevalent with the team's failure to help each other on rotations and inconsistency in running the offense, ranking as the second-biggest reason for the Lakers' struggles (19%). The Lakers continually reminded the media that they appeared in three consecutive NBA Finals and that basketball mileage eventually caught up to them. But only 11.7% of fans subscribed to this theory, putting more blame on Pau Gasol's post-season disappearing act (14.6%) and the bench's continual inconsistency (12.49%).

The Lakers and their fans may be in agreement that Magic Johnson's argument that Dr. Buss needs to "blow up this team" may be unrealistic, considering only 35.4% of fans agree with these sentiments. But 45.3% of fans argue the Lakers need to make tweaks to their lineup to ensure the team remains competitive. That's because what disturbed 40.4% of fans the most was the fact that the Lakers couldn't three-peat despite all the talent, coaching and experience they had, with 73.4% arguing Gasol was the most disappointing starter and 60.73% saying they weren't impressed with Blake's first year.

So where do the Lakers go from here? Well, even if it's questionable that 38.3% are wishing that Jordan Farmar had stayed and 35% are lamenting the Sasha Vujacic trade, Lakers fans clearly agree with Jackson's contention that the team needs to acquire more speed to complement their main cast. But it remains unclear how the Lakers can go about getting those pieces. Of all the assets the Lakers have, 36.2% of fans would be OK with trading Bynum and 33.8% would be fine with shipping off Gasol, but only if it's part of a trade package for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard or another blockbuster player. 

It remains unclear what will happen. Kupchak sounded noncommittal about how many changes he would make, expressing optimism that the Lakers could still contend for a title with their current roster and then acknowledging the possibility that he would need to make moves. But Kupchak and Lakers fans agree on at least one thing, the need for patience and refraining from overreacting will be critical in making sure the Lakers construct the best roster possible without giving up the talent they already have.

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant collides with Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday . Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011

 
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Must have CP or DWill. I would still swap Bynum for Howard, but CP or DWill is first on the agenda!

C-Howard
PF-Artest
SF-Odom
SG-Bryant
PG-CP or DWill

About BallHog Kobe, he led his team to 2 straight Championships. Now, if only BallHog LeBron or BallHog Rose or BallHog Westbrook can do the same.

Lakers are in that awkward phase where the star is too old to be as dominant as he was in his prime, but he is way too competitive to stop trying to be that dominant. If they don't pick up somebody up like Chris Paul, they will spend the next few years in limbo...

About BallHog Kobe, he led his team to 2 straight Championships. Now, if only BallHog LeBron or BallHog Rose or BallHog Westbrook can do the same.

Posted by: D(erek)J(eter)
=======

DJ,

I understand you're point, but in all fairness, maybe we should wait until they all are 32 years old also and see what they have accomplished by then before comparing.

Gotta look like this for next season for us to win at least the next 5 years:

Bynum
Dwight
Kevin Love
Kobe
Chris Paul

Bench: Blake Grifin, Odom, Artest, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Fisher (needs to retire already)

Art,

What I'm saying is that all scorers are BallHogs, Jordan included. Didn't MJ go about 6 season shooting like mad and 0 Rings till Scottie ,and MJ still shoot a lot.

Art,

Just tired of people blasting Kobe, when all he does is play hard, hurt and determined. He didn't tank (sorry Pau, Ron, Derek, Blake, Barnes, and Brown) in the Dallas series. If you look at game to game stats, he tried scoring, passing, stealing and defense.

Even keeping Drew, if we could get DWill or CP, what an added flexibility to our team, wow. We could do what we do best and what other teams do best against us!

DJ,

Yep, you're right about that.

I find it interesting how the Celts and Heat have managed to get their stars all on the same page. Allen, KG, Pierce - Wade, LaBron, Bosh. None of them dominate the ball game in game out, they do a good job sharing and at times one of them gets more shots than others but it changes game to game.

Aren't Kobe, Pau and Bynum comparable to those 3 on the Celts and Heat?
Maybe not.

Mary, with all due respect...

DJ,

I understand your comments about Kobe bashing.
But it does come with the territory, the higher profile guys get the praise and get the heat.
I'll bet the Labron fans are sick to death of seeing all the criticisms about him.
Kobe's positives are many but he isn't flawless just as none of us are.
Anyway, I've talked enough about Kobe for one day, I just hope he comes back strong and the Lakers get him more support so we can see what he does with it.

:-),

How about Bynum, Dwight, Yao Ming, Kobe, Chris paul

Coach: Adelman

Bench: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Odom, Artest, Steve Nash, Fish

LOL!!!! Do we agree? LOL........

TO :-(,

How about Bynum, Dwight, Yao Ming, Kobe, Chris paul

Coach: Adelman

Bench: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Odom, Artest, Steve Nash, Fish

LOL!!!! Do we agree? LOL........

Art & DJ,

The Lakers need more reliable scoring from the perimeter. I can see why teams pack the middle, hack, and send the Lakers without offensive production. The NBA is moving towards wing players, probably to showcase durant and lachoke/wade. This is why Bynum, Gasol, Howard, and other dominant bigs get frustrated. We need perimeter shooting to open up so the inside guys can dominate

Did you hear Kobe's quote where he says Bynum will "have to fall in line" and get with the program? Kobe says he (Kobe) is Number One, Pau is Number Two, and that Bynum will have to fall in line and accept his third banana role.

That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the Lakers.

What's wrong with that? Bynum can barely stay healthy.....he needs to concentrate on that, and make a defensive contribution first...that's when they were winning, when he was grabbing rebounds and blocking shots...the time will come for him to dominate offensively.

I say forget about all those grandiose fantasy trade scenarios. Not likely to happen due to salary matching complication and more likely to leave the Lakers with the short end of the stick anyway.

Better off to just think realistically. Here are a couple of nice (not superstar nor needed to be) PGs that can be had: Raymond Felton, Ramon Session or Aaron Brooks.

They are all relatively young, athletic and quick. For those who thinks Kobe shoots too much especially now that he's on the down side of his career and maynot be as efficient as before, a good PG is a must to reign him in as well as to lead the team in a new direction.

Yeah, but what happens when Kobe is double-teamed in the playoffs, Pau is a no-show, and our big man is not getting the ball in the paint for a higher-percentage shot?

We need to use the height advantage for rebounding and defense too.....Pau and Drew just want to shoot. If they get fouled or miss they cry instead of crashing the boards, and it translates into no defense and complaining about touches. They can both dominate, but the selfish aspect prevents them from making contributions when they don't score. Pau didn't do anything to win because he couldn't get back at dirk on the offensive end.

Right now, we read more articles about Lakers, i got a picture why the Lakers did not played well in the playoffs.
1) Bill Simmon wrote:” Phil’s instincts was telling him no, but his heart was telling yes”. Phil returned because he think Kobe has one more year left. I wrote last summer, i thought Phil shouldn’t come back, i saw Ron Artest won game 7 for Lakers not Kobe, Phil should knew that better than anyone.
2) Odom said that the Lakers playing cat and mouse games all season.
3) Bynum said we need pratice together more.
4) Kevin Ding of OC register wrote that Lakers did not pratice well because Kobe wasn’t there.
In the playoffs, you had to play harder, Lakers can’t. The wrong strategy of Phil because he thinks Kobe has one year left, he can dominate the game by himself. Game 1 against Dallas, i saw Kobe took the shot first, i knew something was wrong. Don't pull the stats, and say Kobe has to shoot how many shots...in the playoffs, it depends on the team you play against, find their weaknesses and beat them. We don't hate Kobe, just tell the truth, even Phil now admitted about kobe.

How about trade Bynum to Denver for Nene and Raymon Felton!

Who said we can never be beaten in 7 game seied!!!!
How about 4!!!

This team need to be blown up!

Get rid of Kobe and Bynum, and get some quality players such as D Will, CP, and The Superman

I dont know how the Lakers will perform next season without Phil Jackson next year or without the current coaching staff,so my best bet will be for Jerry Buss to promote Brian Shaw as head coach and keep the rest of the assissant coaches.The team should continue on from Phil Jackson Philosophy not changing a thing but just the additions of a few players which will strengthen the squad.Also when we have to talk about great teams in the world we have to talk about Manchester United football club,this year they have won the 19th Premier League title,12 under Sir Alex Fergusson,thats what is called greatness.

How about having Fish and Luke retire and become assistant coaches!

Lakers is NOT going to WIN a Championship Ring next year! You heard it from me first!!! Why? Because they will not make a trade for Dwight Howard and CP3.
There is no way they can compete with Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, OK Thunder, Mavs, even with the new Clippers roster (LOL), and even the old Celtics and a toss-up against Spurs, and Trail Blazers.

They need Dwight Howard, CP3, and Kevin Love with Bynum.


TO ALL THE BROTHERS WHO ARE BLASTING KOBE KICK ROCKS HE IS THE BEST HE PLAYS HURT WITH THE SAME INTENSITY SO IF HE BALL HOGS E CAN DO IT LOOK AT THE PLAYOFF EVERYBODY ELSE NUMBER DROP KOBE TRIED TO SAVE THESE FOOLS PAU LOOK LIKE HE WAS PLAYING HUGH SCHOOL BALL POOR DERRICK FISHER HE NEED TO GO TO THE BENCH OR RETIRE AND ANDREW CAN GO WE CAN TRADE FOR DWIGHT NOW CAUSE IN 2012 HE WILL BE A FREE AGENT AND ORLANDO IS NOT GONNA LET HIM GO TO FREE ANGENCY AND GET NOTHING IN RETURN LOOK AT WHAT LEBRON DID TO CLEVLAND SO THE TRADE WILL HAPPEN BEFORE THE FEBUARY SO STARTING LINE UP

1CHRIS PAUL
2 KOBE BRYANT
3 RON ARTEST
4 LAMAR ODOM
5 DWIGHT HOWARD

How about winning the WEST first, then talk about champeenship
chinga !!!


Has anyone heard if there is there any interest in the Lakers pursuing Marc Gasol, thereby freeing up trading Bynum for a point guard?

Blaming Kobe for shooting the ball too much is completelly unfounded. It is true that when he shot the ball alot, they lost. But when he shot the ball less, they lost as well. He tried both approaches, but neither worked because this team just lacked the desire and intensity to do whatever it takes to win in the playoffs. A few years ago, the spurs slipped imperceptably past that point where they could win a championship. It seems as if the Lakers have reached that point as well. Last year, after the Lakers beat the celtics, they seemed worn down, and almost more relieved then elated. They never could seem to regain their zest for winning this year.
Now is their chance to retool, or face the inevitable slow decline. Bynum is the key to this transition. Either take your chance on him and let him do his thing, or trade him for a star. Throw in Odom as well if it gets you Howard.
If anyone can get this team back on top, it's Jerry Buss.

Not a chance NOLA is going to let the Lakers get their hands on Paul. Much better chance to get Deron.

art,

>>>I understand you're point, but in all fairness, maybe we should wait until
>>>they all are 32 years old also and see what they have accomplished by then
>>>before comparing.

Fair enough. Compare what they've achieved at the same age.

LeBron is 26 years old. When he was 26, Kobe had 3 rings. If LeBron wins the championship for 5 of the next 6 years, he'll catch up to Kobe. And note that his move to Miami negates the claim that LeBron didn't have good teammates - Wade and Bosh are top notch 2nd & 3rd best players on the team and they're all young enough to make several runs at it. No 3-peat means either that their coaching isn't good enough or they're not good enough.

Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose are both 22. When Kobe was 22, he was right in the middle of winning his first championship. If either of those guys manages to win a ring, then they'll be on track to be compared to Kobe (with all the Kobe loyalists saying he'll never be as good as Kobe... just like the Jordan loyalists saying Kobe will never be as good as Jordan).

>>>What I'm saying is that all scorers are BallHogs, Jordan included. Didn't MJ
>>>go about 6 season shooting like mad and 0 Rings till Scottie ,and MJ still
>>>shoot a lot.

Throughout his career, Kobe has attempted 19.4 shots per game, and 20.1 shots per game during the playoffs.

Through his career, MJ averaged 22.9 shots per game, and 25.1 shots per game during the playoffs.

In fact, I wonder if there has ever been a team to win a championship without at least one player who attempted 20 shots a game.

Mary Chandler,

>>>How about Bynum, Dwight, Yao Ming, Kobe, Chris paul

Why are you thinking so small... Lamar can play point guard you know, and Kevin Durant could play 2...

I'm just sayin'

>>>The Lakers need more reliable scoring from the perimeter. I can see why
>>>teams pack the middle, hack, and send the Lakers without offensive production

Yep. Each of the past 3 seasons, they had at least a couple of guys who got hot from 3 - Fish, Luke, Farmar and Sasha in 2008, Lamar, Shannon & Trevor in 2009, Kobe, Jordan & Sasha in 2010

In the 2011 post season, Fish was their only hot 3-point shooter, at 41%. The next highest on the team (other than Pau, who only took 2 3's total) was Blake at a poor 33%.

If you can't even hit 1/3 of your 3's, then the other team can pack the lane, which is exactly what Dallas did.

People get all whiny that they aren't passing the ball in to Pau & Drew enough, but when those guys are double teamed even when they don't have the ball, it's kinda hard. If Brown (28%) or Barnes (16%) or Kobe (29%) or Odom (20%) or Artest (32%) had actually been shooting well on 3's, then that would draw the defenders out and let the post guys go to work. But Dallas just sagged off and dared the Lakers to shoot more 0-pointers from behind the 3-point line.

>>>Has anyone heard if there is there any interest in the Lakers pursuing Marc Gasol

Haven't heard, but it's unlikely.

The most the Lakers have to offer is an MLE. Marc Gasol will make WAY more than the MLE. Expect a multi-year deal with an average salary of 10+ million.

>>>How about having Fish and Luke retire and become assistant coaches!

Sure, that's really reasonable.

Now, I'm sure YOU are willing to give up 80% of the income that you'll make for the rest of your life just for goodwill, aren't you. Just give it away because you think it will make your company better - You'd do that, right? 80% of all the money you'll make for the rest of your life.

After Luke and Fish end their current contracts, I can't see either of them getting another one. And they'll never earn the sort of money they make as players ever again in their lives.

"Art,

What I'm saying is that all scorers are BallHogs, Jordan included. Didn't MJ go about 6 season shooting like mad and 0 Rings till Scottie ,and MJ still shoot a lot.

Posted by: D(erek)J(eter) | May 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM "

Michael played a couple seasons before Scottie arrived but I think they had 3 or 4 years together before they won a championship.

What it boils down to is the Lakers don't have a leader. Kobe is not a true leader in the sense that MJ was or what DRose has become. I admire Kobe for his passion, competitiveness, great skills and drive, but his selfishness is what is preventing him from carrying this team. For someone surrounded by so much talent, it's unfathomable that he couldn't will this team to perform better. Don't believe me? Why then does his teammates criticize him when he shoots too many bricks after a loss? It's because they don't respect him. Sure, they think he's a great talent, but not a great leader. As a leader, you must trust your teammates and nurture them because they look up to you. But if you have dissension amongst your rank, then it's a sign that they don't respect you. That my friends is why Kobe is not a leader and could not carry this team. I still love the Lakers and will be a Lakers fan forever.


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