A Dose of Reality for Lakernation: Fading Stars + Huge Contracts = Little Promise

For the last ten years the Los Angeles Laker faithful have become accustomed to their team being in contention for NBA Championships due to their young star Kobe Bryant and his revolving door of talented big men (Shaquille O’Neal, Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol). However, after successfully winning 5 Championships the Laker front office has failed to prepare for the future. Their once young star is now 34-years old and is nearing the end of his career and the talent that surrounds him is not the same faces Kobe Bryant won multiple championships with. The average age of the Lakers is 29 years old and the assets on their roster are deeply flawed due to character concerns, inconsistent play, and large contracts that other franchises would dare not touch.

As several pundits propose absurd trades involving Andrew Bynum, his bad knees and attitude will cause several franchises to think twice about making him their franchise player. Although Paul Gasol has become the popular target to blame for the Laker’s failings this season it is also unlikely that any team outside of the Houston Rockets will be willing to pay the remaining 38 million dollars left on the final two years of his contract.

Nevertheless, Lakernation do not fret there is still hope. There are two options that the front office can explore in order to make their roster more competitive and increase their chance of contention:

Option 1: Fire Coach Brown and hire Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan

  • Despite his reputation Mike Brown as a tough defensive minded coach, the truth is that the Lakers only hired him because there was no one left in the dry coaching pool to choose between other than long-time assistant coach Brian Shaw.
  • The players do not respect him as a coach and often free-lancing on the court and  (ex: Bynum’s 3pt attempt)ignoring the play sets Coach Brown had called.
  • The pool of coaches is much better than it was a year ago. Recently retired, Jerry Sloan has the coaching itch and wants to get back into coaching. Coach Sloan’s experience would be an asset that would demand the immediate respect of Kobe Bryant and the rest of the players would follow suit.

Option 2: Trade Kobe Bryant ‘black mamba’

  • Kobe is 34-years old and is owed $62.5 million dollars in the two years left on his contract which runs through 2013-14.
  • Although several may consider trading Kobe Bryant to be unthinkable I ask you to consider how his one-on-five mentality in Game 4 resulted in a Laker lost to the Thunder.
  • Kobe is in his prime and may be the only asset franchises would consider swallowing a huge contract to add to their team.
  • Several great athletes end their careers in other uniforms because the time comes where the value of what they can fetch outweighs what they may provide their current team on the basketball court.

However, in the end I believe that Kupchak and the Laker front office will choose Option 1 by firing Mike Brown and attempt to hire a coach with more experience and a far more impressive track record. Despite the economic relief that trading Kobe Bryant may bring, it is unlikely that the front office will make such a bold move without the assurance of receiving an immediate return on both talent and fan fare.

Lakernation a long offseason awaits, but it certainly promises to be a compelling one filled with rumors, failed trade attempts and the harsh reality that the glory days of Laker dominance are behind us, and the future of the Laker franchise is unknown.

– A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

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