Today, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kuptchak will enjoy the love of the fans during a championship parade.
Tomorrow he will come back to a desk with a few things on it. Like maybe six new players to find for the roster.
Starting with finding a point guard. Sort of.
All the key components of this title will be back for the next few years — Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom all have long-term deals. Bynum’s name comes up in some trade rumors (Chris Bosh, for example) but those are not likely. The Lakers have $71 million on the books for next year they are not going to be taking on more big contracts.
But they need to do something at point guard. While Derek Fisher came up big in the playoffs, as he always seems to, during the regular season he was a liability to the team on the court. His defense is sub par. He shot 38 percent last year and had a PER of 9.3. He’s really a backup point whose minutes should be kept down until the playoffs. The Lakers want him back, he wants to come back, but he’ll take a pay cut from the $5 million he made this year.
But this past year neither Jordan Farmar nor Shannon Brown stepped up. Farmar’s game is better suited to a more free-flowing style and he is a free agent — he is gone. Farmar has been frustrated trying to fit his game into the triangle, the Lakers have been frustrated because Farmar doesn’t do enough to fit his game into the triangle. This divorce has been a long-time coming.
Shannon Brown could return, but he is going to opt out of the $2.1 million he is due next year and test the market. The Lakers don’t want to pay a ton more than that, but another team might.
What the Lakers need is a point who can knock down open shots and defend. At a good price. Look for them to make a run at guys like Steve Blake or maybe even Eddie House. But they need someone to take 25 minutes a night or more at the point.
The Lakers actually may have as many as six new players on the back end of the roster. Guys like Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga may be gone, replaced by young, inexpensive options. Or maybe a veteran big wanting a ring and willing to play cheap (Kurt Thomas, anyone? Maybe Tim Thomas? Any other Thomases?).
The Lakers have a lot of decisions to make. Tomorrow.