Five things Joe Smith needs for a successful season for the Lakers
This is the 15th post in a series focusing on five things each Lakers player must do to have a successful 2011-12 season (assuming there is one, of course).
1. Get re-signed. Joe Smith and General Manager Mitch Kupchak each had their own way of showing their cards. Smith gushed in his exit interview about wanting to extend his nomadic 15-year NBA career, preferably with the Lakers. Kupchak raised doubts before the draft on whether Smith still wants to play. So yes, Smith's return is highly unlikely. But out of fairness, it's hard to predict how anything will shake up after the NBA lockout.
2. Show more interest fitting in with roster. Smith seemed content last season with lacking a definitive role, and the coaching staff appeared to feel the same. It's to some degree understandable because Smith has little to offer. But for all the hand-wringing over Pau Gasol's fatigue, Andrew Bynum's continuous monitoring of his surgically repaired right knee and Derrick Caracter's lack of preparation, the Lakers would've been better served in ensuring Smith can offer something. In turn, Smith appeared too willing in simply going along for the ride. He has limited mobility and post moves, but the Lakers need something to shave off some of the frontline's minutes so they remain fresh and healthy.
3. Quickly understand concepts. Another reason Smith appeared tentative last season was his admitted lack of understanding the triangle offense. His own abilities aside, it's going to be easier to understand Mike Brown's system because it's a traditional open-court offense and everyone will also go through a similar learning process.
4. Practice hard. All accounts say he provided the necessary practice intensity bench players need to provide to keep the starters honest. There's no reason that should change.
5. Provide positive locker room presence. Smith has become dispensable because his abilities never quite matched the expectations that came with being the first pick in the 1995 draft. But he's remained in the NBA for so long partly because teams know he brings little risk in ruining locker room chemistry. For the Lakers, that meant shaking everyone's hands before player introductions and becoming one of the team's most educated hip-hop fans.
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