Los Angeles Lakers fans are an impatient bunch who are only used to winning titles. In the last two years, they haven’t even come close. For this reason, it’s fair to say that the organization is going to go through some major changes this offseason.
Fans of the Purple and Gold have every reason to be frustrated. This is a team that has set the standard in sports when it comes to winning championships. It’s fair to call them the best American professional sports franchise thus far in the 21st century.
Just getting to the second round is never enough for the Lakers, especially in the Kobe era.
It’s probably wrong for the Lakers to overreact and blow up the team after this season’s disappointing exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but because of pressure from fans and the media, it won’t be a surprise if we see Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum get traded.
Fans might think they’re doing it because the team is ready to move on from Bynum’s aloofness or Gasol’s inconsistencies, but in reality, it’s all a numbers game.
The Lakers know they must do something in order to deal with the CBA’s new salary cap rules. They’re paying Kobe Bryant north of $25 million in the next two seasons and this is going to handicap their ability to spend, especially if they have Gasol, Bynum and Metta World Peace eating up close to $40 million.
The Lakers would love to sign affordable players who can play and help the team. It’s awfully difficult to find guys like that.
An example of a player of this sort is Jordan Hill, who made big strides this season coming off the Lakers bench. In 39 games with the Houston Rockets and the Lakers, Hill averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds per 36 minutes.
He’s essentially a double-double guy if he starts, and he made just $2.9 million this year.
The Lakers need more Jordan Hills.
They can afford to keep either Gasol or Bynum, but then they must go after an elite yet affordable point guard. Perhaps a guy like Kyle Lowry or Jeremy Lin could set up the Lakers for the future.
Perhaps digging deeper and finding even cheaper talent would be more helpful.
The Lakers needed depth last year; that was obvious in the playoff series against the Thunder. They’re not going to win any championships with an eight-man rotation, especially when four of those guys rarely contribute.
Guys like Steve Blake, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes might see the exit door quickly. The Lakers and their fans can no longer tolerate overpaid guys who aren’t going to bring much to the table.
They need to make some value signings and shed some salary for the future.
So, expect a new-look team next season. The Lakers management has made some shrewd decisions and moves over the years, so it’s probably fair to assume that whatever they end up doing, it’ll be the right call.