Phil Jackson must be questioning his decision to return to Los Angeles.
Off-season additions like Andrew Bynum, Aaron McKie and Kwame Brown won’t help the Lakers. Pretty soon, the Zen-master will realize that he should have continued searching for spiritual enlightenment rather than returning to lead a team of mortals.
Los Angeles needed another center because Chris Mihm and Brian Cook can’t get it done. But drafting Andrew Bynum was a mistake. He just graduated from high school and isn’t physically or mentally ready for the NBA. Just don’t tell that to Bynum. The teenager has already boasted to the media that he’s the next great Laker center.
There were other posts available. Dale Davis would have worked as an unrestricted free agent. Los Angeles could have explored a sign-and-trade for either Tyson Chandler or Samuel Dalembert. And if the Lakers wanted to go young in the draft, why not use the tenth overall pick to select prep sensation Gerald Green? In a few years, Jackson would have had an athletic line-up featuring Green, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.
Aaran McKie isn’t capable of being the initiator in Jackson’s offence. The veteran spent last season glued to Philadelphia’s bench. He also lacks the skills to be an effective lead guard in the triple-post system. Jackson’s previous point guards-B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper and Brian Shaw-could keep opposing defenses honest by knocking down open shots. McKie struggles with his outside range, so opponents can leave him to double-team Bryant and Odom.
Latrell Sprewell would have been a better fit at the 1-guard spot. He’s got the athleticism and size that Jackson likes in a point guard. Sprewell is a better scorer than McKie. But the Lakers can only offer a one-year deal at around 2.5 million dollars. “Spre” will likely sign elsewhere. After all, how can he feed his family on just 2.5 million dollars?
Kwame Brown could thrive in California. Expectations were too high for the forward in Washington. With the Lakers’ soap opera revolving around Bryant and Jackson, Brown can focus on basketball. Unfortunately, his rebounding and defense won’t be enough to turn things around for the purple and gold.
Who else is on the roster?
Obviously, Jackson has a great talent in Bryant. These two need each other, so they must bury their old differences. The All-Star has to forget about the Zen-master’s tell-all book and act like a leader. Jackson, on the other hand, must forget about the knife that Bryant and the Lakers stuck in his back.
Odom is due for a big season. Last year, he never got comfortable with the offense, which revolved around Bryant. Jackson wants his new forward to play like Scottie Pippen. But after last season, the new coaching staff must have some concerns that Odom can’t play next to Bryant.
After Bryant and Odom, there’s not enough talent for L.A to contend. This team is loaded with back-up wing players: Devean George, Jumaine Jones, Laron Profit, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton. The club has just one decent power player in Brown.
It remains to be seen how Jackson will handle all the losing. Don’t be too sympathetic. A Zen-master should have known enough to stay away from these Lakers.
By Oly Sandor. Oly’s a free-lance journalist and an NBA analyst based out of Vancouver, Canada. His work has appeared in eurobasket.com, insidehoops.com, basketball.com, Ballerz Magazine and hoopsvibe.com. Send him an email at OlySandorNBAGuru@yahoo.com