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This season has been hell for Los Angeles Lakers fans as the team is experiencing its worst season in franchise history. With an aging roster and no franchise player set to take over for Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ return to power might take longer than expected. Since Bryant might be a mere two years away from retirement, the pressure is certainly on the Lakers to improve quickly. It will take some shrewd moves and budgeting to make it happen.
Mike D’Antoni’s reign as the Head Coach of the Lakers is as drama-filled as any period in Lakers history. Dwight Howard left the Lakers because he did not fit in with the coach’s system and the Lakers were left for dead this season. One can make the argument that injuries dismantled the team and any coach would have failed, but the fact remains D’Antoni doesn’t coach defense. If the Lakers stick with him, they will undoubtedly be one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Hire a veteran coach with NBA experience
If you expect a college coach to come in and coach an ego like Bryant, you are sadly mistaken. The Lakers need a veteran coach who knows how to handle the personalities that make up an NBA roster. One name that comes to mind is Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy helped to develop Dwayne Wade and Howard, taking the Heat and Magic to numerous postseason appearances in the process. He also has experience in dealing with divas such as Howard and deserves another shot in the NBA. I like a seasoned NBA coach over a college coach such as John Calipari.
The Lakers need to hit a home run in the upcoming draft. If they are lucky enough to win the lottery and draft Andrew Wiggins or Dante Exum, which would expedite the team’s road back to relevancy. As of now, the Lakers maintain the sixth worst record in the NBA and would set them up to draft someone along the lines of Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon. I think the Lakers would be best suited drafting either a small forward or center.
If I’m the Lakers general manager, I DO NOT sign Carmelo Anthony this off-season. If LeBron James opts out of his contract, you obviously take a run at him, although I cannot imagine the backlash if James left Miami where he won two championships to come be the face of the Lakers. Otherwise, this season I try and re-sign Pau Gasol for a cheap contract, let go of Nick Young who will probably command an expensive contract and re-sign a few of the players on the roster such as Jordan Farmar . Let Steve Nash finish out his contract and then sign one or two players. The Lakers should make a run at young players who could blossom into stars such as restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe.
The big move I foresee the Lakers making is signing Kevin Love in two years. Pairing Love with Bryant and whichever talent the Lakers draft in the first round will certainly set the team up nicely. Maybe even the next year the Lakers can sign Russell Westbrook and pair him back up with Love. By that time, Bryant will either be out of the league or used as a clutch veteran similar to how the Heat use Ray Allen.
The Lakers need to make big moves over the next two seasons to return to their glory days. Bryant’s contract and personality make it hard to find a potential partner for him, but if the Lakers can return to respectability next season, they might be challenging for a championship two or three years down the line and be set for the next decade after Bryant retires.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of April 9th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.