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Los Angeles Lakers (Last Year: 65-17)
Live 2009 NBA Draft Grades:
42. Patrick Beverly, G, Ukraine
This pick was dealt to Miami for a future second-rounder and cash. I'm not sure why they sold their top two picks when they could have used a small forward or point guard. (Pick Grade: REALLY?)
59. Chinemelu Elonu, PF, Texas A&M
A project pick who probably should have stayed in school. Again, why not draft a safety small forward in case Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza leave via free agency? Or a point guard prospect? (Pick Grade: REALLY?)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Knicks sign SG Sun Yue
Lakers cut SG Sun Yue
Lakers re-sign F Lamar Odom
Lakers re-sign SG Shannon Brown
Lakers sign SF Ron Artest
Rockets sign SF Trevor Ariza
Heat acquire PG Patrick Beverley from Lakers for cash and a future second-rounder
2008-09 Season Summary:
The World Champion Lakers have the perfect blueprint for how to run a successful NBA franchise. They have made all the right moves in the past few years to return to the top of the league. They surrounded their superstar (Kobe) with an All-Star caliber big man (Pau Gasol) who knows he is the second option. The pieces then fall into place around those two talents; a skilled, versatile forward (Lamar Odom), defensive stopper (Trevor Ariza), and veteran point guard who can hit open shots when Kobe is double-teamed (Derek Fisher). And of course, they are coached by a future Hall of Famer (Phil Jackson). As the gold rings and championship banner will forever display, the 2008-2009 Lakers were the head of the class in the NBA.
1. Keep Kobe Happy - Kobe has an early termination option on his contract which would pay him $23 million next season and $24.8 million in 2010-2011. He would be pretty foolish to walk out on his contract as he wouldn't see that sort of money from any other team if he were to become a free agent, unless he was willing to play in Europe. Then again, Kobe played around with the Lakers a few off-seasons ago when he bluffed signing with Clippers to get a bigger payday with the Lake Show. Odds are he has matured enough where he will stay with the Lakers, realizing he has a great shot at repeating as NBA Champions.
2. Trevor or Lamar? - Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom were both integral parts in the Lakers title run. However, both are unrestricted free agents and should garner a lot of attention from other teams this off-season. I don't think the Lakers will be able to afford re-signing both players meaning one is likely to leave. But which player do they pursue because they each bring something different to the table. Odom is a veteran who can handle the ball offensively and play multiple spots on the floor. Ariza is the type of defensive stopper that every championship team needs, is six years younger than Odom, and should come at a cheaper cost. Decisions, decisions...
3. A Point Guard - Especially if Odom is not re-signed, the Lakers should look into acquiring another point guard. Odom played a lot of point forward, running the triangle offense for the Lake Show, but that element to the offense could be gone. Derek Fisher proved he can still hit some clutch shots, but is definitely on the down side of his career. Back-up Jordan Farmar took a step back in this his third season, seeing his playing time take a major cut in the post-season.