2011 NBA Offseason: Los Angeles Lakers

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Los Angeles Lakers (Last Year: 57-25)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

The Lakers used their four second-round picks on two point guards and two foreign guys who will more than likely never play a minute in the NBA (though they eventually dealt Chukwudiebere Maduabam to Denver for a future second-round pick. I cannot see both Darius Morris and Goudelock making the opening-game roster since I doubt the Lakers will want to carry four points guards. I think they could have at least tried to add a wing or a big who had a chance to stick since there were some decent guys available when they were picking. (Team Grade: Don’t Get It)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

41. Darius Morris, G, Michigan
The Lakers need a young point guard since Derek Fisher is not getting any younger, and Morris is a great value here. He has great size for a point guard (6-5) but is not a shooter. Still, well worth it for the Lakers with one of their four second-roudners. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

46. Andrew Goudelock, G, College of Charleston
After grabbing a point guard who can’t shoot, the Lakers grab a point guard who can shoot. Andrew Goudelock is more of a Derek Fisher-type player than Morris, but I can�t see both guys making the team, which has me wondering why the Lakers would take back-to-back point guards. (Pick Grade: Don’t get it)

56. Chukwudiebere Maduabum, PF, Nigeria (TRADED TO DENVER)
I have honestly never heard of this guy. But since they have four second-round picks, they might as well stash a foreign guy somewhere. (Pick Grade: HUH?)

58. Ater Majok, F, Connecticut
The former UConn Husky is long and athletic, but not much of a basketball player. Again, they have four second-round picks so might as well roll the dice. (Pick Grade: HUH?)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
When the Lakers fell short of their third straight NBA Championship by getting swept out of the postseason by the Mavericks, the sky was falling for the franchise. The roster suddenly needed to be blown up, Kobe’s rein was done, and panic set in. Relax. Sure the Lakers were utterly embarrassed in their Game 4 loss to Dallas when they seemingly gave up in the second half, but sudden talk of needing to trade Pau Gasol or doing something drastic is going a bit overboard.

Let’s face it, some of the key players are on the roster are getting up there in age and not as effective as they once were; (i.e. Derek Fisher and Ron Artest.) Kobe is still one of the best in the game but not nearly as dominant as he once was and logged the least minutes of his career since his second year in the league. Gasol’s numbers were consistent with his career averages, and Lamar Odom didn’t let being married to Khloe Kardashian have a negative effect on his game.

Injury issues continued to linger around Andrew Bynum throughout the season, but Bynum was healthy in the postseason making their early exit slightly more head scratching. When he was healthy, Bynum, Gasol and Odom formed one of the best frontcourts in the league.

Perhaps the biggest development of this past season for the Lakers was the changing of the guard at head coach with Phil Jackson coaching his final season in L.A. Jackson led the Lakers to five NBA titles but was forced to step down due to health issues. The Zenmaster cemented his status as one of the best head coaches in league history, but a new era begins with the franchise already naming former Cavs head coach Mike Brown as Jackson’s replacement.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Andrew Bynum

PF: Paul Gasol/Lamar Odom/Derrick Caracter

SF: Ron Artest/Matt Barnes/Luke Walton/Devin Ebanks

SG: Kobe Bryant

PG: Derek Fisher/Steve Blake/Darius Morris/Andrew Goudelock

NBA Free Agents:

G-Shannon Brown (UFA)

C-Theo Ratliff (UFA)

F/C-Joe Smith (UFA)

Offseason Transactionss:

Shannon Brown opts out of contract, becomes unrestricted free agent

Lakers acquire future second round pick from Nuggets for PF Chukwudiebere Maduabum

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $94.8 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Point Guard: Derek Fisher is a tremendous locker room guy and can still occasionally provide a boost with his ability to knock down triples. Steve Blake is a solid reserve but should be nothing more than that. The Lakers could ideally use a play-making point guard who can create for others and take some of the ball-handling responsibility off Kobe’s hands. Lamar Odom does that somewhat in a point forward role, but if L.A. can find a true point guard to help share the load, it would be a great benefit to the team.

2. Depth Up Front: It is never a good thing when you bring in players like Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith to help fill the void for frontcourt depth. With both of those guys free agents and probably past their retirement point, the Lakers need to find a true big man to backup Andrew Bynum who is entering the final year of his contract and battling chronic knee injuries. While Pau Gasol can handle some time at center, he is better off exploiting his mismatch against other power forwards.

3. Adjust to Coaching Change: Mike Brown was an interesting hire to replace the legendary Phil Jackson. Now a veteran Lakers team that had become accustomed to the coaching style and techniques of Jackson must now adjust to a new man in charge. It will be critical for the team to buy into Brown’s practices, or else the ship could be sinking even faster for the Lake Show.

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