This was my response on another message board (LSU) that asked what I thought about the Lakers upcoming next year. I know I'm overtly optimistic, but here we go:
Beginning of the season just showed how bad Mike Brown was and how Dwight Howard had not recovered yet. Mike Brown simply put is one of the worst coaches in the history of the league and was carried by Lebron James, much like Vinny Del Negro is being carried by having CP3 basically coach the team.
Steve Nash, freakish leg break. Steve Blake out for much of the season. This Laker team missed over 180 games, with over 70 of them being from the starters. Pau Gasol was thought not to fit into MDA's system etc. Train wreck right? Wait just one moment.
Antawn Jamison played amazingly well as a back up. Jordan Hill is back and is healthy. Earl Clark wants to stay even if it means less money. There is no reason to assume Meeks will not return to his norm on 3 point shooting. Blake showed in the second half of the season that with the right coach and system he is a great player. So what does this all mean?
1) Dwight Howard will be resigning. There's no way he walks away, he's already telling Lakers fans he wants to make this season up to them. He will be back next year.
2) Pau ... where do I begin? Still one of the most talented big men in the game, and when he's healthy like at the end of the season .... the guy was handing out triple doubles like a point guard. He's only got 1 more year, and while he's owed 19m and it's going to be a hell of a luxury hit you aren't going to get proper value in a trade. You keep him and take the hit unless you get a good trade.
3) Kobe .... here is the dilemma. I am of the mindset Kobe will be back in 6 months, even if he needs 9. That's just Kobe for you. Some players come back just as strong ... some don't. The great thing about Kobe is his basketball IQ, even if he loses some of his athleticism, it's not going to make him a terrible player. Kobe won't be amnestied, unless it is his idea and he plans on sitting the entire year and then coming back, which I don't see.
4) Steve Nash ... give the guy an offseason to rest and heal, and see how he's going to do next year. He was a short term solution, that may not be a solution at all. Even hurt? He was still a decent pg this year. If he can come back at 80% or 90% of what he was 2 years ago? Lakers will be fine at the pg position.
5) MWP ... people who follow the Lakers religiously knows he's found a home in LA. He's definitely not the player he was and he knows that. But he's a fan favorite, and he wants to stay long term. The problem is that he's well overpayed and many think he's an amnesty target. Here is the kicker ... this year is a player option for him. He can opt out of his own contract saving the amnesty option for the Lakers, and with the good will earned in that move most likely sign at the veteran minimum for 2 maybe 3 years. He needs to be a backup though, he is no longer starting caliber for the 3.
So ... we have 4 of our 5 starting lineup. Let's look at the bench.
1) Jodie Meeks .... had less of a shooting year than expected, a lot of that is due to the chaos in the systems, the chaos with injuries etc. He has a team option, most people expect us to pick it up for the remaining year simply because he's cheap.
2) Jamison, not likely to return. Has expressed interest in going to Charlotte to end his career. This is sad because we could REALLY use him.
3) Clark, has stated he wants to stay in LA even with less money, this is good. He's a great bench 4 who can guard some 3's and 2's when needed. Note: Ramon Sessions said the same thing and then booked it out of town.
4) Hill, still under contract for a year, great as a backup 4 or 5. So we're pretty set on the PF/C between Clark and Hill.
5) MWP should be the backup 3.
6) Steve Blake, still under contract, and can play the backup 1 or backup 2 as needed. If Jodie Meeks is not retained expect to see Blake playing more of the 2, along with the possibility of Goudelock staying around if Kobe's injury is lingering.
So what do the Lakers need to do? We have 1 pick in the draft, late second round. Not a happy prospect, but if there is a decent PG there we need to look at getting younger in that position. For that late in the draft there are 2 players that a lot of Lakers fans are interested in that might be around. The first and my favorite is Peyton Siva from Louisville. Fresh off of a scandal that may make him drop farther, he provides defensive scrappiness, and the ability to attack the rim that would help spacing on the floor. The second is Tim Hardaway Jr. The kid is raw, but is overall a good prospect. Either one of those two would be an absolute steal for the Lakers.
Starting 3 ... this is one of the most important positions in the league right now. This is the guy who gets to guard Lebron, Durant, Melo, etc. For some reason Nuggets fans believe that Iggy is going to opt out and come to the Lakers for the mini MLE (only thing we have). If this happens, good god almighty the basketball gods are repaying us for a horrible season, I don't expect it to happen. The second far fetch idea is that the front office puts together some sort of trade with Pau Gasol to the Bulls (who were interested in him) with Luol Deng coming back. Deng or Iggy would be a god send for the Lakers. Don't count on either of these happening. The guy most Lakers fans feel is likely is Dorell Wright. He would be a great fit in our system and he's affordable.
Let's say miracles occur and all I said comes true, including Iggy.
This 10 man rotation is easily one of the best and deepest in the NBA. When you expect Pau and Howard will both be healthy and more time together perfecting what they got down pretty well at the end of the season (our play called HORNS which uses both big men extremely well) you can expect the inside to be crazy. Iggy is still one of the best 3 defenders, and can bring a little scoring when needed. If Kobe and Nash are even 80% healthy that's a dangerous starting lineup.
Siva needs time to learn, so why not put him with one of the best in the game behind Nash. A very solid bench means no huge drop off.
So now ... the question goes to the coach. A lot of Lakers fans hate MDA, most of the media thinks he did horrible. I am not a huge MDA fan but let me say this, you could have put John Wooden, with Red, Phil, and Pop are assistants and this team still would not have gotten out of the first round. There has never been a team in the NBA NAY sports period that was as cursed with as many injuries as this team. MDA with a full offseason to tailor his system to the crew, with a full offseason to heal and a healthy Dwight Howard to help bolster others inadequacies on defense. Get in a full training camp where they can learn to play with each other.
The Lakers should be fine next year with little fixes. Oh and ... you don't think Kobe's made it a point to mark down how many people are saying he can't come back? Yeah the guy has the same FUCK YOU attitude that Jordan did. He's going to be back and do whatever it takes to help his team win.
#DelusionalOptimism maybe ... but I've been watching NBA basketball for ... shit over 20 years now and I would be surprised if next season doesn't play out similarly to what I've posted. And all the trials and enduring they had to go through this year? It's going to make them a stronger team next year.