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Westsider Rider

Monday, February 25, 2008

What else can I say?

When the Lakers made the move and got Pau Gasol, I think all of us Lakers fans expected a lot. We were immediately thrust into title contention and became one of the favorites, but I don't know if many people would be able to say they expected this much. This team is rolling right now and hasn't skipped a beat as they integrated Gasol into the offense. He does so much for this team it's unreal to think of what we had to give up to get him.

Now our only concern seems to be when Bynum comes back and how will he fit into this team as he comes back from injury. At least he is on schedule, unlike Trevor Ariza who will be missed as his broken foot is not healing as quickly as hoped. We need Ariza because Luke Walton has definitely regressed after getting his new contract. I don't know what it is but he is not playing very well and is extremely frustrating to watch at times. Sasha is really now a machine as he likes to call himself and with Jordan putting up solid minutes backing up D Fish there's not much more this team needs.

I was sitting there watching the game last night and thought to myself how unbelievably lucky we are as Lakers fans to be rebuilt like that so quickly. I was extremely young at the time but I do remember the end of the Showtime era and growing up with Cedric Ceballos and Sedale Threatt. Then the summer of 96 came with Kobe and Shaq and we were rolling again in a few years. Then Shaq is traded, the team made some dumb moves (Caron for Kwame) and combine that with Kobe's tirade this offseason I didn't know what to expect. Now we are one of, if not the favorite now to win the title and the team is set up for a great run as this team is extremely young.

As I said before, Lamar would play well in this role as a 3rd option, but the question is two fold, one is how will he react once Bynum comes back and he becomes option 3 or even possibly 4, and then for the future, how does he fit into this team in the long run? Lamar has put up unbelievable numbers since Pau has arrived but he's currently the 28th highest paid player in the league at $13.524 million per season and his contract is up next year. With Pau in the fold and Kobe who will not be moved and Bynum becomes eligible for his big time extension the front office will have a tough decision.


Monday, February 04, 2008

A quick break from the countdown to Signing Day

Yes, I've been neglecting the site for a while, I just didn't feel like I had anything new to bring to the table aside from all the news that is regularly being reported. Besides I didn't want to get too worked up over how Terrelle Pryor could potentially determine the fate of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for the next few years. Good news is we did receive a commitment from Terrence Robinson last night and if his clip below doesn't get you excited I don't know what will.

That said the exciting news broke from out here in Los Angeles as the Lakers made the blockbuster move to acquire Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies for essentially nothing, giving up Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittendon along with Aaron McKie and two first rounders. It does hurt having to give up Javaris as he is very exciting to watch but with the emergence of Jordan Farmar this season, he became expendable.

Obviously getting an All-Star caliber player is huge, but to do so without giving up any of our key assets makes it even better. In addition I believe, as many do, this will free up Lamar Odom as it will relieve him of any pressure of having to be the #2 guy and will be the 3rd scorer until Bynum comes back at which he could be the 4th. Now is a 4th scorer worth the contract he has right now? That's another question we'll ponder at a different time. This immediately throws the Lakers back into the championship mix, those of us optimistic folks out here had already thought we could compete with the emergence of Bynum this season, but this legitimately puts us in the conversation across the league. The two keys will be how will Pau acclimate himself to the triangle? Something I don't think will be a problem and how/when will Andrew come back and will he be at full strength? With a healthy lineup this team is as loaded as any in the league now and throw in the depth across the board this is a team that no one will want to face come playoff time. An exciting week is ahead as Gasol's debut will be tomorrow against New Jersey, then National Signing Day is on Wednesday. I'm still holding out hope for Terrelle Pryor and hopefully he will realize that Ann Arbor is the best place for him.

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