Two straight years the Lakers have been ousted in the second round. They still have Kobe Bryant and while he’s closer to the back end than the front end of his career he still was almost the league scoring champion. They have two All-Star caliber big men, maybe it is time to move one and get the pieces needed so the Lakers can compete with the young and still improving Thunder. Right?
Not so much.
That is what Jim Buss — the son of longtime owner Jerry Buss and the guy steering the Lakers ship now — told T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times. Simers asked Buss what were the odds Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would all start next season as Lakers.
“Very good,” says Buss.
The Lakers don’t need to move a big to get pieces that fit better in Mike Brown’s offense?
“No,” he says. “I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket. We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel.”
This might be a smoke screen, there is some buzz around the league the Lakers are willing to move Gasol in particular. But they also want more back than other teams might be willing to give back.
Last season Gasol’s game suffered as Mike Brown moved him more to a facilitator at the elbow and let Bynum — and sometimes Kobe — dominate the low bock. The idea of moving Gasol down there more sounds good, but if you have two bigs near the basket you have a crowd (and a defense that can easily pack the paint). I’d be interested to see what “coaching strategy” will change this.
Is Kobe good with standing pat?
“He’s already had lunch with Mitch [Kupchak], and from what I’m hearing Kobe is pretty satisfied with this team. If I heard differently from Kobe, it would put some doubt into what I was thinking. But I’m hearing he believes this team kept together can do something. And he’s only got a short window of time remaining to win championships, so apparently he believes this group gives him the best chance to do so.”
You’re going to have to put a lot better pieces back around your three stars to make that work (and even then I have my doubts).
Buss said he wants to bring back Ramon Sessions, who played well for the Lakers in the regular season (better than Derek Fisher) but seemed wide-eyed in his first playoff appearance ever.
Buss sounds like he is going to stick to his guns — the Lakers went a radical new direction after Phil Jackson left. That’s fine. The Lakers won one more playoff game last year than in Jackson’s last year.
But this roster still seems an uncomfortable fit with Brown’s offense and it’s hard to see how bringing the same group back means things will be different. The Lakers already come with high expectations, and there will be added pressure because next season the other team in their building could step forward and be the second best team in the West.
It’s going to be an interesting summer and next season in Los Angeles.