- Created on Friday, 05 July 2013 18:50
- Last Updated on Saturday, 06 July 2013 01:16
- Written by David Rountree
The Los Angeles Lakers have fallen into the abyss of NBA mediocrity and there is no escape for them anytime soon. Dwight Howard has opted to leave the Lakers for the Houston Rockets, a team that had so much more to offer the superstar. The Rockets had the youthful tandem of Jeremy Lin and James Harden to help seduce Howard. They also had cap room to possibly make another deal; bottom line is they had flexibility that the Lakers could only dream of.
The Lakers are paying the consequences for feeling like they could buy their way to a championship. The team has no up and coming talent, no legitimate role players, and even no Kobe Bryant. Who is still recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, so why would Howard choose to stay? The Lakers also infamously passed on re-hiring Phil Jackson about a year ago; a decision that is still haunting the team this day. Jackson could have eventually motivated Howard to stay with the Lakers.
The Lakers are locked into some daunting contracts with Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, together owed about 28 million next season. Even if the Lakers had some cap room there are no other impact free agents left to pick from. This off-season Howard was the only legitimate player that could turn a team around instantly. So the Lakers are banished to mediocrity, unless management can find suitors for Gasol and World Peace’s contracts.
Realistically though, even if Howard would had returned there is no guarantee the Lakers could have competed for a championship. Players like Steve Nash (39 yrs old) and Steve Blake would not have been able to get it done, even with Howard. The hype of the Bryant/Nash/Howard tandem now looks outright foolish, and proves that basketball is still a youthful game.
This episode shows the importance of the drafting good players and building a team the traditional way, because you never know what a free agent may do. The Laker organization was sure that their winning history was enough to seduce Howard, but they were wrong. Players want to win in the present, having a history of winning means little.
Now the Lakers are now back to square one, back to the days of mediocrity. Now they must scrape up a team to justify their high ticket prices, and also look again for a successor to Kobe Bryant. In today’s league finding superstar talent is harder than ever, most of the great players have long-term deals. So Laker nation is down for the count and may have to stay there for a while (1…2...3…YOU’RE OUT!).