Purple and Gold Pain
Winning is intoxicating. When you win you want that feeling again, and again. My fellow Laker fans know this feeling and even some, like my Dad have experienced it over a lengthy period of time. My Dad also says that you must understand and appreciate winning because it’s a fleeting thing. Lakers. Yankees. Cowboys. Manchester United. Celtics. All franchises who have experienced winning over several generations of people. I bring this up because (my) Lakers are currently in one of those not winning phases right now and to some, Game 7 of 2010 seems a LONG ways away. The only player that was on the roster that currently plays for LA is The Shell of Pau Gasol. Kobe? Hurt. Derek Fisher? An OKC player. Lamar Odom? Not in the league. Andrew Bynum? Recently released after being acquired by the Bulls in a salary dump. Metta World Ballotelli? Toiling away in New York. After back to back titles to cement the Kobe legacy in LA, the Lakers have fallen on hard times, and that’s being kind.
A sweep at the hands of the Mavs in 2011, followed by another sweep by the hated Spurs has basically sealed the deal for the current incarnation of the team as we know it. The Lakers are in a similar boat that the 2012-13 Mavericks were in. Simply just a bunch of one year deal guys treading water until free agency, the draft or until some miracle drops in their lap to make them a contender again.
Gone are the days of Chris Wallace giving away Gasol for nearly nothing. Most GMs are smarter and even savvier about contracts these days. The Lakers currently have 2 players under contract for next season in Kobe Bryant and in the corpse of Steve Nash. Since the sweep by the Mavs in 2011, GM Mitch Kupchak has preached since 2011 that there wouldn’t be any deals that went past the 2013-14 season. We are now at this point and here’s the dilemma. Who are the Lakers going to give their money to? For all the hype-beasting about the "vaunted Free Agency class of 2014", no one on that list screams game changer that will realistically change teams. Before you can say Bronny James stop it right there. Give me 2 logical reasons for him to leave Miami?
He has the coach he wants in Spoelstra. I personally think Bosh will stay either by opting out and resigning or taking the player option at 2 years $40 million dollars. So who does that leave you with? Dirk? Duncan? Tony Parker? All aging stars with no discernible reason to leave their respective teams. Does Jordan Crawford excite you? Evan Turner? Looks as if Lance Stephenson will stay with the Pacers using the Larry Bird rule or whatever it’s called these days to allow the Pacers to have the most to offer. The rest of the list could be read to me and it would sound like Charlie Browns teacher. Wah Wah Wah Wah Wah. But fear not Laker fans, there are 2 names that may get the juices flowing: Carmelo Anthony and Eric Bledsoe.
Melo has an opt option out in his contract for this summer and the rumors say he will use that. Bledsoe is another option. He’s a restricted free agent so whatever he gets the Phoenix Suns will have the chance to match. Bledsoe fits the mold of what I want for a potential lead Laker: youth and talent. Melo is a star, not yet a superstar, but the numbers being rattled around don’t sing to me. A $20-25 million offer per year for a player that’s basically a scorer and nothing more. Granted, he’s a top 3-4 scorer in the league, however for me he’s not a difference maker for the Lakers. How far do you get in the West with Melo as your best player? Not very far. Plus, if the numbers are accurate Melo and Kobe will take up the majority of your salary cap for at least 2 years once Kobe’s deal kicks in next year. I’ll also remind you that they are both over 30. So for me that leaves us with Bledsoe.
Why not offer four years and $60 million for him and see what the Suns do? The Suns, a playoff contender this season, and will stay in the race for the season and they would have to make a decision on possibly their best player. Someone has to take this money they're going to have and why not give to Bledsoe? At least that’s a start. Another caveat to this is the impending retirement of Commissioner Stern. I'm going to put on my conspiracy hat on and ask what are the chances he allows the Lakers to get a top 5 lottery pick? 0%? Less than 10%? If the Lakers were somehow able to get one the top NCAA prospects allegedly about to come out, folks would be in a furor screaming conspiracy! It’s Patrick Ewing all over again! Well, Laker fans this is our team now, hope you enjoyed the winning. It may be a while. Pipe dream alert: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love are available in 2 years when their deals expire. Are they worth the wait?
Born in Dayton, Ohio but raised in Dallas. D.A. is no pushover