By special request (this is for you, Jester), I’ll take a stab at ESPN’s 5-on-5 on the Lakers.
1. Fact or Fiction: Mike Brown was the right hire.
Fiction. He’s not a terrible hire, because he is very defensive-minded, and defense is something the Lakers struggled with last season. And he has experience coaching a moody superstar, so there’s that. But offensively, the Cavs were dreadful under his guidance even though they had one of the best offensive players in the league. In five years with LeBron, he wasn’t able to convince him to develop a post game, so does he have the fortitude to “coach up” Andrew Bynum? I’m not sure I can think of a coach who is better suited for the job, but honestly, I’m not going to try too hard.
2. Fact or Fiction: Kobe Bryant is the best player in the West.
Are you kidding? Fiction. All due respect to Kobe, but Dirk Nowitzki is the current King of the West and Kevin Durant and Chris Paul are both also ahead of Bryant, in my opinion. Nowitzki’s playoff run was epic, and Kobe had a chance to stop it — but couldn’t. There were opportunities in that series where the old Kobe would have taken over and willed his team to a win and those opportunities passed the current Kobe by.
3. The Lakers need to …
…acquire a superstar. This is easier said than done, but perhaps the rights to Andrew Bynum would garner Dwight Howard or Chris Paul if the Magic or Hornets were convinced that they were on their way out of town. It’s important that the superstar acquired is not a wing, because that’s not going to work with Kobe. But he’d welcome an opportunity to play with Howard or Paul.
4. Fact or Fiction: L.A. should deal Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol.
Were you not listening? Yes, Bynum and his shaky knees have to go and the franchise needs to bring in a superstar to build around after Kobe hangs ‘em up. They need to target a franchise that is about to get LeBron’ed, and the Magic and Hornets immediately jump to mind. Of course, this is all moot because Jim Buss is reportedly running basketball operations at this point and Bynum is his guy, so he’s not going anywhere. The Lakers could try to move Gasol, but with his salary and age, his value is not nearly as high.
5. Fact or Fiction: The Lakers will win another title with the current core.
Fiction. It could happen, especially in an abbreviated 2011-12 season, if there even is one, but I wouldn’t bet on it. They would be the type of contender that could capitalize if other teams in the West (or the Heat) faltered. But the last time I saw these Lakers I thought they were done. They were completely disjointed and had terrible chemistry — and chemistry was never their strong suit. They got by on effort and execution, and I don’t think they’ll bounce back in these areas on the heels of Phil Jackson’s departure.