High expectations can derail the simplest of goals. High expectations in the NBA can provide internal pressure that not even the most seasoned veteran teams can keep from imploding. The balloon may have burst, finally, for the Los Angeles Lakers.
At the start of the season, most predicted the Lakers would be headed to the Finals to compete for the championship after spending a few seasons chasing it’s own tail. The additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash just upped the already lofty goals those in the Laker organization set every off season. The Lakers also had to believe they pulled the ultimate two for one by trading for Howard, a young star to take the eventual place of Kobe Bryant while steady competing for championships now. How a few weeks can change things.
Besides the obvious glares in the makeup of this team, the Lakers pressed on with the championship or bust mantra. Mike Brown was fired 2 weeks into the season as the Phil Jackson soap opera took hold of the franchise for a week or so before the Lakers finally inked Mike D’Antoni to a 4 year deal shocking the world that they spurned the advances of one of the greatest coaches to do it. Nothing went right before D’Antoni, nothing has gone right since D’Antoni.
The Lakers mortgaged their future for this season. Thinking short term has cost the Lakers not only this season but will cost them once Kobe decides he has had enough. Pau Gasol hasn’t shown up all season. Nash has barely been on the court enough to make any kind of assessment, Howard was still rounding into shape before suffering a torn labrum, and Metta World Peace looks like a shell of himself on most nights. Kobe has to be losing his mind. I know somewhere in the world, Smush Parker is having the biggest laugh at Kobe’s expense.
What were the Lakers thinking?
Gasol hasn’t been Gasol since the last championship run. Trading him should have happened right after the Howard deal if he wasn’t going to be a part of the Howard deal. He lost whatever confidence he had a long time ago. World Peace should have been gone this off season as well. Matt Barnes may not possess the occasional offensive outburst that World Peace can be capable of but, he would have been a cheaper version of what World Peace brings to the table on most nights.
As it stands now, Howard may very well choose to go elsewhere this off season. The pressure might be too much for him to bear. The scrutiny, the win it all because nothing else matters philosophy, the lights, far to bright for Howard’s eyes and ego. The Lakers rolled the dice with a bunch of pieces that never quite fit together and looks to have crapped out. Mitch Kupchak should working the phones like a mad man looking for someone to take Gasol off his hands. A year ago, Gasol was a valuable chip, today not so much.
Kobe won’t allow the Lakers to go down with out a fight. Most hope that the fight doesn’t bring down one of the greatest to ever put on a Laker uniform. Thoughts of making run to the playoffs depending on Jodie Meeks, Darius Morris, and Antawn Jamison had to be the furthest thing on his mind entering the season but, here we are. The pressure is on. Fans are getting antsy and a full on mutiny is in sight. This year may be foreshadowing what is to come for one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. The juice looks to not have been worth the squeeze.