If the Lakers lose tonight, there will be full-fledged panic on the part of Lakers fans. You should hear talk radio in Los Angeles today, where the idea of the Lakers trading for Carmelo Anthony is getting serious discussion.
(Two quick thoughts here Lakers fans: 1. The Nuggets want draft picks, great young players and cap relief and you can offer little of any of it; 2. Can you imagine the 10-of-50 shooting nights that Anthony and Kobe Bryant could put up? I don’t think they fit well at all.)
Thursday night’s Lakers game against the Spurs has been hyped as a measuring stick game for Los Angles. The thinking goes the real Lakers will show up now or drastic measures are needed. If the Lakers — already just 1-5 against the league’s elite with stinkers against the Heat on Christmas and the Celtics last week — lay another egg, it will be seen as a sign of the end times. Even though the Lakers are two-time defending champs.
The game is a measuring stick, but a small one. Here are two things we know.
First, the Spurs are executing at a much higher level than the Lakers right now. If the playoffs started today, the Spurs would and should be favorites. Win or lose their reputation is secure. Today they are the better basketball team.
Second, that has little meaning come May.
We did a story months ago talking to scouts and the perception of many around the league hasn’t changed — the Lakers are the only team in the West that can beat the Lakers. The Spurs are better than expected, they have proven championship mettle, but the biggest threat to the Lakers remains the Lakers and their attitude.
The Lakers don’t need to hit the panic button, they need to stop hitting the snooze button.
Those are the signs of a team that is concerned. But when you’ve won back-to-back titles and been to three straight finals, you get some benefit of the doubt. You don’t blow the team up midseason. Unless the deal is too good to pass up.
And while in a season when Gilbert Arenas being traded proves nothing is impossible, the Lakers being able to make any significant moves with the players they have is sitting right next to impossible with its arm around it.
The thing Lakers fans really need to hope for is that the team wakes up. Maybe Thursday against the Spurs.