The rumor mill keeps turning as teams around the NBA are discussing trades and free agency options for some of the best players in the NBA; most notably Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams whom may all be members of the Brooklyn Nets. The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, have been quietly shopping for players in the background of the SportsCenter scroll. But Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will stay put and I will tell you why.
The only challenge for the Lakers in the Western Conference right now is the Oklahoma City Thunder and LA would benefit from some young, athletic players to run with the former Supersonics. There is no plausible trade for Gasol other than to the 76ers for Andre Iguodala or to the Hawks for Josh Smith. If that doesn’t happen Gasol is the best option at power forward for the Lakers and he needs to play his game instead of listening to people who aren’t associated with the team telling him to be more aggressive and drive to the lane more. He is playing angry, which leads to frustration, which leads to a lack of production. He needs to play the beautiful, fluid, fun game that won him the Rookie of the Year in 2002, championships in 2009 and 2010, and multiple All-Star appearances. Gasol needs to pass more and shoot more jump shots, while leaving the banging inside for the best big man in the league: Andrew Bynum.
More rumors have been swirling regarding sending Bynum to the Magic for Dwight Howard. The tandem of Gasol and Bynum makes them the most feared big men in the league both offensively and defensively. Dwight Howard would benefit from playing with an offensively talented big man like Gasol, but I would rather see him passing it into Bynum who can either make the correct pass back or slam it home. When Bynum is playing his best, which he will come around to do on a nightly basis, he is the best big man in the league. He is smoother on offense than Howard and we have seen him grab 20 boards and get eight blocks, which cements him as one of the better defensive centers as well. Kobe Bryant has said he sees a lot of himself in Bynum. His attitude, the way he carries himself, his sarcastic tone with the media and his erratic play all show a young Kobe and I think people have been way too hard on him thus far. I would love to see him retire a Laker.
O.J. Mayo has been a name thrown around and I would greatly appreciate the acquisition. He would strengthen an underachieving bench and possibly sneak his way into the starting lineup as a big point guard. He is also a defensive stud and will be able to shut down players like Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Which brings me to the Clippers, who some think are the number two team in the West behind the Thunder. I will continue to roll my eyes and laugh at those who jump on the Lob City bandwagon. Remember the 2005 Phoenix Suns? The ones who made minor playoff runs and were the most exciting team in the league? Remember their components? An MVP point guard in Steve Nash, a high flyer in Amare Stoudemire, and a bunch of three point shooters and gunners. That is the Clippers of now and the near future. The Lakers should have beaten the Suns that year with Kobe and Smush Parker in the backcourt.
My point is to remind the Lakers that their core is strong and when they play like they should, they are and will be the second or third best trio of players in the NBA. No need to worry about the Clippers, but the Thunder are a force to be reckoned with and are one of the most respected teams in the league. In order to compete, the Lakers need to sign a young free agent like O.J. Mayo and only trade Gasol if it is for either Andre Iguodala or Josh Smith.Back to the Los Angeles Lakers Newsfeed