Friday, December 23, 2011

Purple Crepe

No Phil Jackson. No Jackson staff. Jimmy Buss instead of Jerry. An already-breaking-down (and possibly divorce-court distracted) Kobe Bryant in his 16th season (most of those 100-game seasons). Lamar Odom traded by Jimbo to Dallas for nothing besides Mark Cuban's dirty shorts and some snapshots of Dealey Plaza. First four games without center Andrew Bynum -- with probably many more of those to come. An on-the-trade-block and often nervous Pau Gasol. And who exactly is the best 4th guy on the team? McRoberts? Metta World Peace? Barnes, Blake, Murphy, Fisher, Walton? Perhaps Andrew Goudelak or Jason Kapono? The slowest club in the league. A compressed season for one of the NBA's oldest teams. The media glamour passed over to their Staples roommate, the Clippers. And what reason is there to trust new head coach Mike Brown? What has he ever done with a veteran team used to being in the Finals, as player or coach?

I don't think we've discussed enough just what NBA Commissioner David Stern did to this franchise with his backalley reversal of the Chris Paul trade (to the Houston Rockets as well). Not just for this season -- a year already compromised by the lockout and by Stern's skulduggery -- but for the next five years (or longer) as well. Two of the three franchise players on the club are on the way down. The other (Bynum) has shown little evidence of long-term health or drive or offense-expansion. Where is the future?

I know we're all asking Santa for Dwight Howard. But why would Howard now come here? The glamour has shifted to the red-and-blue unis. Jackson is gone. The team has nothing beyond the big three (and in a trade that three would shrink to two or one.) Would he come here to play with a mid-30s Kobe Bryant? If not that, why then? (And is that a reason?) There is NO CHANCE Howard would agree to a trade during the 2011-12 season when he'd have to play with no PG, no SF, and no bench (and a first year Laker coach). So perhaps a free-agent signing in July (if Magic GM Otis Smith is dumb enough to wait)? Again, why to L.A. and not Chicago or Dallas or Houston or even the Brooklyn Nets? All those teams have much better parts than the Lakers will have going down the road.

David Stern has draped crepe over this paper-thin franchise. Prediction: 33-33, 8th seed, 1st round and out. (And worse to come in future seasons.)