As expected the Lakers dropped Game 5 to Phoenix and are now eliminated from the playoffs. Kobe had a poor shooting night but Lamar Odom finally showed up and put in 33 to help the Lakers make a run, but as has been the case during this series, the Lakers made a run to make it interesting only to fade down the stretch. This game and playoff series has had me torn as I find it difficult for myself to root for the Lakers knowing that any win would just give the front office false hope that this team can compete as currently constructed. In a scenario that is very similar to Michigan football from 2003-2005 the Lakers thought they were good enough but this past season showed that they are not.
In 2003 and 2004 Michigan got to the Rose Bowl in back to back seasons but ended up losing both of them. Coming into 2006 a lot was expected of the team as the core of the previous two teams came back but combination of injuries and bad luck along with the bad coaching that all Michigan fans had been complaining about for the past few seasons brought the worst Michigan football season in 20+ years. So near the end of the 2005 season I was also torn because I knew only more losses would bring about the changes that would be necessary to make the national championship runs that all Michigan fans knew the team was capable of, but at the same time the fan in me wouldn't allow me to root against my team. Many times we must take one step backwards to take two steps forward and this is another one of those situations.
Last night's loss might have been the best thing possible for the future of this Lakers franchise. It was good to see TNT panned to Mitch Kupchak a couple of times near the end of the game so we knew he was watching in person how this team was not capable of making a championship run that the front office, coming into this season, believed it could make because it had the same core as last year's team that took Phoenix to 7 games. I'm still torn on the Andrew Bynum situation, I don't think we should trade him because his ceiling is so high but at the same time I am coming around on it because Phil and Kobe are here to win now, Phil is only under contract for a few more seasons and this Kobe that we see is only here for a few more years. I still believe not trading Bynum for Kidd was the correct move but if Indiana is willing to listen for Jermaine O'Neal I may change my tune.
Regardless the front office has a lot of work to do this offseason. Marc Stein has a good article up on ESPN about it
. For those that are interested RealGM.com has a trade checker
which you can mess around with and come up with your own trades for the Lakers to make this offseason. For those that are curious, Lamar and Kwame will match up enough salary to bring in Jermaine O'Neal or Kevin Garnett and the deals still work if they throw in Bynum as well. Perhaps O'Neal can be had for cheaper this offseason as he just had knee surgery? That is my main concern with Jermaine as he has had a problem staying healthy. Perhaps the Ron Artest talks will re-open but will the Maloofs sign off on trading to a division rival? There was a deal in place for Bibby but the Maloofs rejected it because of that so it will be difficult to deal with them. Finally the Kevin Garnett dream scenario everyone has been dreaming about, the problem is Kevin McHale is the GM in Minnesota, as a Celtic he hates the Lakers and I doubt he will ever deal with the Lakers to help them out, especially for the cornerstone of their franchise like Kevin Garnett has been. Regardless of what players they try to pursue we now know that changes should be coming, Kupchak better do something to earn his salary this offseason or there will be a lot of unhappy fans and most importantly a very unhappy Kobe.