Lakers Overall Team Grade
When you are the defending champs and only have two second-round picks, you are looking for guys who can potentially be groomed into role players. That is exactly what the Lakers found. Ebanks and Caracter won't be asked to do much during their rookie seasons, but were solid values and should get exponentially better just practicing with the Lakers. In a couple of years, both guys could develop into second-round steals. My only beef is the Lakers not adding a young point guard which is why they get an A- instead of an A. (Grade: A-)
43. Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia
Regret your decision to turn pro? I would say so. Still, Ebanks ends up in a pretty good spot in L.A. He will add some athleticism and defensive ability to the Lakers bench and might be a potential Trevor Ariza-type player down the line, and is a very solid value this low. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
58. Derrick Caracter, PF, UTEP
A solid value for the champs. Caracter is a big body who can clear out a load inside and provide some depth off the bench in L.A. which is especially needed since Andrew Bynum's injury issues are a concern. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)
2009-10 Season Summary:
Repeat championships. It certainly didn't come easy and wasn't the prettiest display of basketball, but the Lakers accomplished what every team sets out to do at the beginning of the season by winning the NBA title.
The big questions heading into the season was how would Ron Artest adapt to his new surroundings and would he disrupt the team's chemistry? Artest behaved enough and played his role making his acquisition seem like a rather intelligent decision. Other than that, things went as expected. Kobe Bryant proved he is one the best players in the league while Pau Gasol maintained his status as one of the top big men around. Lamar Odom continued to embrace his role as sixth man with veteran point guard Derek Fisher doing what was needed despite clearly displaying that his career is close to coming to an end.
The one concern coming out of the season was the lingering knee injury to young center Andrew Bynum. At just 22 years old, Bynum missed 17 games during the regular season and sometimes looked like a 50-year-old running up and down the court during the postseason. Still, the Lakers took care of business when it counted, avenging their 2008 Finals loss to the Celtics.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Andrew Bynum/Theo Ratliff
PF: Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom/Derrick Caracter
SF: Ron Artest/Matt Barnes/Luke Walton/Devin Ebanks
SG: Kobe Bryant/Sasha Vujacic
PG: Derek Fisher/Steve Blake
NBA Free Agents:
G Shannon Brown (UFA)
SF Adam Morrison (UFA)
C D.J. Mbenga (UFA)
PF Josh Powell (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: $91.5 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Lakers sign SF Matt Barnes to 2-year, $3.6 million deal
Lakers sign C Theo Ratliff to 1-year, league minimum deal
Lakers re-sign PG Derek Fisher to 3-year deal worth reported $9-plus million
G Shannon Brown opts out of contract
Lakers do not extend qualifying offers to PG Jordan Farmar and SF Adam Morrison
Lakers sign PG Steve Blake to 4-year, $16 million deal
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. The Zen Master- Phil Jackson knows how to win championships just like Lady Gaga knows how to look like an absolute freak. The Zen Master is strongly considering retirement after winning his 11th ring this past season. He is an integral part of the Lakers success over the past decade and any potential replacement would be a downgrade on the bench so the Lakers need to somehow convince Phil to come back. Whatever amount of money it may cost or whatever Phil may need, management needs to get the job done or the Lakers' chances of a three-peat decrease.
2. Bynum Back-up- The Lakers have to be concerned about Bynum's knees. He is supposed to undergo surgery in July which will help his aching, but you never know how he will respond and if he will return to his potentially dominating form. While the Lakers have the option of playing Gasol at center and sliding Odom to the four, L.A. needs to go out and get another big body that can play quality minutes if Bynum does not recover.
3. Point Guard- Derek Fisher once again proved he can still hit some clutch shots, but his playing days are definitely numbered. He could choose to retire but is also an unrestricted free agent. If he does return, I would expect the Lakers to try and re-sign him but he cannot be counted on to play heavy minutes anymore. Backup Jordan Farmar does not appear to be Fisher's successor and is entering the final year of his rookie contract if the Lakers extend the qualifying offer. I would expect L.A. to pursue a veteran free agent or try for the time being or maybe even bring in a young point guard who they can potentially groom if Fisher does return.