Listening to country music, writing about basketball—sounds about right, doesn’t it?
Sorry, but this is the only way I know how to work: My Way. Call it the Ole Blue Eyes in me—call it what you will—yet I can’t fake it, because the strangest thing you’ll ever hear is the truth.
The Lake Show’s offseason has been as such. Nothing could have prepared even basketball’s greatest prognosticators for what has happened in Los Angeles. And heaven help the rest of us for trying to keep up.
First: Steve Nash
This little thing makes absolutely no sense no matter how many times you run it through your head.
So you’re Phoenix, right, and Steve Nash wants one last contract before he goes out—hopefully for his sake—and for my own personal sanity—right into the Hall of Fame. You think things over (or, at least, one would think), throw ideas off the wall, and then someone says, Why don’t we get some draft picks for him or something? Okay, we’re doing fine so far. Then, the bottom falls out…
Not only do they trade him to a competitor, make them an instant title contender, and quite surely cement his Hall of Fame status on a different team, because he’ll finally get his title, the Suns trade him within the division.
I remember where I was when this happened, too. Mentally, nothing other than the thought, If you’re going to flame out over the next three years, Why not go for the gusto with Steve Nash at the helm? Honestly.
Kobe’s not getting any younger, and without any draft picks, what else can you do other than double down, going out with a bang? But then…
Dwight Howard to LA Cometh
In all honesty, the state of LAL looked bleak after the Nash contract ran out. Sure, titles could be won—possibly playing in the next three NBA finals wasn’t out of the question before DH—and Kobe would get his ring total equal or beyond MJ, yet the idea of the City of Angels drifting towards becoming a Clippers town never gave me a good feeling.
The Dwight Howard deal works on entirely too many levels to fully comprehend until we see the Lakers on the floor, but for perspective, just say this starting five out loud with me: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard.
The bugs infecting the Lakers in terms of future—What to do after Kobe’s prime? After Nash? Do you rebuild? Or do you retool around a free agent?—all just worked themselves out, for they can remain competitive, retool, not rebuild, and the difference is huge, while Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss quietly craft the next wave of Lakers right under our very noses.
That’s all you really need to do. Breaking DH’s impact above and beyond that until your blue in the face may be fun, but it’s utterly useless.
Forgive me; I just had a Gary Allan moment…
Where was I? That’s right: My third point.
What These Things Mean for the Rest of the NBA
This is all speculation, but they’re useful things to ponder. The unknown…
The Western Conference isn’t up in the air. The Best Conference?—not competition wise. We all see where this is headed. Western Conference Finals: Lakers versus Thunder. Not a doubt on Earth.
The playoffs out west will be fun, don’t get me wrong, but everyone can read the writing on the wall. Only change is that instead of the Thunder getting a pass, and therefore dominating for the next five years, now they’ve got LAL on their hands for that same period.
The Eastern Conference? Give it to the Heat if you must, yet don’t overlook the Pacific Division: Boston’s better; so is Philly; so is New York—twice over. And the Baby Bulls aren’t dead, because that’s still a solid ballclub.
I can’t wait for this season to start! Too much hypothetical thought makes my head hurt…
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