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Los Angeles Lakers Playing The Game Without A Net

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Throughout the franchise's illustrious history, the Los Angeles Lakers have a history of pulling off some of the most audacious personnel moves in sports. From the moment they traded for Wilt Chamberlain, the Lakers have routinely brought in, and shipped out, the game's biggest names. They traded for Kareem Abdul Jabaar. They let Gail Goodrich walk, and were compensated with a draft pick that turned into Magic Johnson. And, in the most relevant case of forward thinking to today's team possible, they traded Vlade Divac for a kid out of high school named Kobe Bryant. In doing so, they freed up enough cap space to sign Shaquille O'neal. Without that single trade, the NBA looks like a much different place these days. But that's not the end of the story. They ended up trading Shaq, who was not far removed from being the best player on the planet at the time of the trade, and netted back assets that they were routinely killed for at the time. One of those assets, Caron Butler, became Kwame Brown, who became Pau Gasol. The other main asset in that trade was the dearly departed Lamar Odom, and Pau and Lamar became the 2nd and 3rd cornerstones to another championship era in L.A.

Now LO is gone, shipped out to Dallas for virtually nothing. It is likely that the move is not the end game, but instead a stepping stone to the next big play. Maybe the Lakers will now turn around and deal for Dwight Howard. Maybe they have some other audacious plan. Maybe the 2017 1st round draft pick from Dallas will end up in the top three because Dallas is an aging team that will eventually need to rebuild. I have no idea what this Laker team will look like in a few days, to say nothing of a few years from now. I only know that whatever happens needs to have a few things fall into place, or else the Lakers will be one of the major losers of this bizarre off-season. Standing pat, with a championship squad with plenty of motivation to play their best ball, was not a bad option. Instead, it's clear the franchise has once again decided to role the dice.

This is what the Lakers do, and it has rarely (if ever) not worked out for them. But when you are stuck in the middle, balancing on the smallest piece of wire, it can't help but be scary to look down and see nothing but air to cushion the fall.