How an extended lockout could hurt the Lakers
So much for all the goodwill and meetings.
Fan optimism plunged when several reporters tweeted that there had been little progress in Tuesday's contract negotiation session in New York. This shouldn't surprise anybody. Though the players union and the league had consecutive meetings last week and avoided heated rhetoric, one agent believed both sides were "being coy."
Should there be a lost season, the Lakers would hurt in various ways.
Kobe Bryant: He has plenty of time to heal his injured body. But that takes away one championship opportunity away. It also gives him a more difficult trek up the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Pau Gasol: Though he's keeping his conditioning sharp during the FIBA European Championships, a long lockout would dilute his effectiveness. Gasol plans to remain in his native Spain, preventing the chance from forging any chemistry with his Laker teammates.
Lamar Odom: He turned in his most consistent season last year partly because of his involvement with the 2010 FIBA World Championships. It's less likely he would remain as sharp with a lockout. Plus he loses the chance to prove to the Lakers why they should exercise their team option on him for the 2012-13 season.
Andrew Bynum: Even if he's presumably protected from trade talks this season, the Lakers have a $16.1-million team option on him for the 2012 season that could free up space for Dwight Howard. At least he'd have a full year without suffering a major injury.
Ron Artest: He'll be the busiest Laker of all. It's hard to say whether that's a good thing or a bad thing because there's times he handles it well and other times he hasn't.
Derek Fisher: Whether you side with the players, owners or neither, part of Fisher's legacy as a player rep rests on whether he can help reach a new collective bargaining agreement that helps start the season on time and satisfies his constituents.
Mike Brown: A lockout may give Brown more time to get acquainted with Los Angeles. But there's no value in losing a championship-caliber roster for a season and then having to catch up everyone on his system.
Role players: Aside from Luke Walton taking an assistant coaching gig with the Memphis Tigers, no other bench players have definitive plans in case a lockout persists. It's doubtful any of them could absorb the financial loss as easily should a work stoppage last.
-- Mark Medina
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Photos, from top: The Lakers line up for pregame ceremonies; Lakers player rep Derek Fisher. Credits: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times; Mary Altaffer / Associated Press