It’s this simple: The Lakers players believe if management will bring this core with Mike D’Antoni as the coach for one more season they can make a serious run at a title.
Those Lakers see themselves as the side that went 28-12 for a stretch once guys started to get healthy and found a style that fit. They think they found something that works. They want another shot.
Specifically, Kobe Bryant wants another shot.
We’ll see if that happens. Dwight Howard said he would take his time in making a decision, but the smart money is betting he will be back.
Bryant also admitted the Lakers need to get more athletic, to get more speed. That’s where things get tricky — the Lakers are so far over the luxury tax line that all they can offer is one taxpayer’s mid-level deal ($3 million or so) and then minimum deals. And the kind of athletes the Lakers need will get better offers elsewhere. The Lakers could try and find a trade that works for those athletes, but the only trade asset of real value on the team is Pau Gasol. And to trade him breaks up the core.
As for his Achilles, Kobe understood this was going to take time (he admitted he would not likely be ready to play when the Lakers head to China in the preseason. But he could be back somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Kobe said he understood that he would not be quite the same player.
I’ve already told you I think the Lakers can’t come back exactly the same team next year. But we also don’t really know what the core of this team could have done if healthy and with a training camp under a coach there the entire season. This last season was a perfect storm of things going wrong for the Lakers, they think they’ve gotten through the bad Karma.