The Los Angeles Lakers And Their Future
The purple and gold ticker tape is still on the grass at the L.A. Coliseum and the questions are already being asked about the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. Will Kobe Bryant opt out of his contract for more money? Can, or shall I say will the Lakers sign Lamar “The Candy Man” Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown? Will the greatest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson, return to lay claim to an 11th NBA title?
Let’s start with Jackson and his future. We all know that DR. Jerry Buss and family want him back. They know that his ability to not only get the most out of his players, stay calm in trying times, motivational tactics and most importantly stature to the players are invaluable. P-Jax knows his place in NBA history, in-fact I would dare to say he relishes it, and knows that he is the winningest coach (title wise) in the history of the sport and that makes the late Red Aurbach turn in his grave. I mean, what else is left for him to do? He can go surfing in Australia, ride horses in Montana, or enjoy the sunrise and sunset in Santa Monica and be content. After all he knows where the Lakers stand when it comes to him. He knows Kobe and the boys want him back and most importantly he knows the Lakers have another 2 or 3 years in this championship window.
The idea I have is one that Joe Pacheco gave to me in a conversation this morning. Why not give Jackson a 2 year $24 million dollar deal (with a mutual option for a 3rd year) and in the contract he can skip a road trip or two during the “dog days” of the NBA season? He (Jackson) already misses games during the season because of his back aliment (remember Portland this year) and it gives Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis some time running the show and possibly get ready to take the reigns once he (Jackson) retires.
I think Jackson is back for the next two or three seasons and the Lakers will win another title (2 if he is back for three seasons).
Lets move on to the Lakers key free agents this year, Odom, Ariza and Brown. Odom made $14 million this year (because $3 million was the bonus for being traded to the Lakers via Miami) and will expect a nice pay day. He has played all his career but one year in L.A. (remember he started of on the Clippers before his 1 year with the Heat) and finally has a title to show for it. Odom also seemed to thrive in his role as the Lakers 6th man. He was reluctent at first but realized his skill set is better suited off the bench. I can see the Lakers keeping Odom on a 4 year worth between $7.5 to $9 million a year.
Ariza is a home town guy that fits the Lakers and Jackson’s offense/defense perfectly. He knows the Lakers gave him his first legitiment shot to play and he rewarded them with a steller regular and post season (burning his old team might I add). His defense allows Kobe to “freelance” more and get the team out on breaks which (normally) means easy (and cheap) baskets. He makes (around) $2 million and I would expect him to at least double that. I can see the Lakers giving him a 4 year $16 million dollar deal to stay put. One most remember he is ONLY 23 and is going to get better.
Brown, who was the “throw in” in the Vladimir Radmanovic deal, became the Lakers “spark plug” off the bench. He brought a tough, by any means neccesary attitude that was needed. He is the bigger type guard Jackson likes and seems to have a knack for making a big play when it is needed. Brown will be much cheaper then the overpaid (and shot happy) Sasha Vujacic (wo makes $5 million a year to shoot 24%). Brown should return on a 3 year deal (at around $4.5 to $6 million total).
Now for Kobe. He has the option to opt out of his deal and sign a new “max deal” for 5 years $135 million (he currently has 2 years at $47.8 left on his deal), but I think he understands that the Lakers will need every penny to keep this team, HIS team together. Infact, today at the parade when asked by long time Lakers color man Stu Lantz if he is staying or going Kobe replied “go where…this is my home…” as the crowd roared with approval. I belive Kobe will do what ever it takes to keep his team together and try to better Magic Johnson’s 5 titles and even dare I say Micheal Jordan’s 6, both of which are in his grasp if this team stays together (and that means Jackson too).
The Lakers, Dr. Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak (who also deserves a ton of credit for his role in putting this team together) will have some work to do this off season, but when it is all said and done I think he will do the right thing by making sure this team (which is just about to hit their peak) stays together and brings, or shall I say keep the Larry O’Brien trophy in L.A.
1 final thought/question:
I will add this question to all you NBA and Lakers fans out there. For some time we have heard the question “can Kobe win one without Shaq?” Well I pose this question: will Shaq ever win a title without a dominating guard? (remember he had Kobe and DeWayne Wade when he won his titles.) I am a Shaq fan and think the world of him, but now Kobe is the “King of L.A.” and will go down as the one of the, if not the greatest Laker ever. Kobe will be looked upon like Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Lakers fans eyes from this point on, and it is well deserved for a man that not only is the hardest worker in the NBA, but the most complete and best player (sorry LeBron James).
Enjoy the day, thank you for reading this blog and you’re always welcome in my lockerroom. God bless,