10 Ways the Los Angeles Lakers Can Help Kobe Bryant Win
10 Ways the Los Angeles Lakers Can Help Kobe Bryant Win
Kobe Bryant wasn’t going to let a torn Achilles tendon bring him down. He wasn’t going to let it stop him from reaching his final destination. He wants to end his career on the ultimate high by tying Michael Jordan with six championships. He’s come one step closer to reaching his goal by successfully returning from what could have been a career-ending injury. Bryant is slowly regaining his feel for the game, and that is bad news for the rest of the league.
The Los Angeles Lakers demonstrated their commitment to Bryant by signing him to a two-year extension before he even returned from his injury. We know Bryant is committed to winning; it’s up to Lakers top brass to put the right pieces around him.
Life isn’t easy for No. 24 these days. The Lakers are depleted by injuries, and Bryant is being asked to carry the team once again. He is currently the team’s starting point guard, a role that doesn’t bode well for him. Bringing the ball up the court is one thing, but penetrating the lane and dishing to shooters is a completely different story. That was never his strong suit. Besides, he doesn’t have the legs to do that at this stage of his career.
Bryant needs a lot of help if he wants a chance at tying Jordan. It doesn’t look like the Lakers are going to make a championship run this season, let alone a playoff run. That means Bryant has two years left to bolster his already illustrious career. In order for him to collect another championship ring, the Lakers must provide him with the help he needs.
Here are 10 ways the Lakers can help Bryant win.
10. Acquire a Point Guard
Bryant is being asked to be the team’s starting point guard, a role he isn’t quite accustomed to. He is a capable passer, but he isn't very efficient, averaging close to six turnovers per game since returning to the court. Let’s face it; Bryant is better at receiving the ball than he is at passing it.
The Lakers have no point guard at the moment because Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake are all injured. None of them are set to return anytime soon, so the Lakers must be looking for a point guard through trade or free agency.
9. Part with Steve Nash
If Steve Nash decides to retire due to medical reasons the Lakers would get out of paying him for the final year of his contract. If that doesn’t happen, however, the Lakers need to find a team that will take on his contract. That’s easier said than done with Nash set to make close to $10 million during the last year of his contract. The money the Lakers are paying Nash could be used to bring in a free agent that would help take the load off of Bryant.
8. Lure a Big Time Free Agent
Even after signing Bryant to a two-year contract extension, the Lakers have enough cap space to sign a big name this offseason. Whether it’s Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng or Kyle Lowry, the Lakers must provide Bryant with help. He is going to play out the remainder of his contract and then probably retire, bringing the grand plan of Bryant retiring a Laker to fruition. That means the Lakers have a two-year window to win their next championship, so they better get to work right away.
7. Keep Pau Gasol
Despite his rough start this season, Pau Gasol is still a top tier power forward in the NBA. Bryant always speaks his mind so it’s not unusual for him call out Gasol from time to time. That doesn’t mean he wants his Spanish cohort shipped out of town. Farmar, Gasol and Bryant are the only three players remaining from the championship teams, so it would be to the Lakers' advantage to keep Gasol around.
Trade rumors continue to heat up with Gasol the most talked about player. His contract expires after this season, and the Lakers will have first dibs on signing the 33-year old big man. If the Lakers can find a favorable trade then I suggest they go for it. All I’m saying is that they shouldn’t trade him just to trade him. The Lakers will have enough cap space to sign a free agent during the offseason and re-sign Gasol.
6. Limit Bryant's Minutes
Bryant has only been back six games and is averaging 30 minutes per game. Many speculate that the heavy minutes Bryant played down the stretch of last season is what led to his injury. If the Lakers want Bryant to stay healthy for the next couple of years they have to keep his minutes down. It’s hard to do that right now with all the injuries, but the Lakers cannot afford to lose Bryant again.
5. Hire Jerry West
It’s no secret that Jerry West is a big fan and supporter of the Black Mamba. West orchestrated the draft day trade that landed the 17-year old Bryant on the Lakers back in 1996. He has always backed Bryant throughout his career, so why not bring him back for one last consulting gig? It would be a sign of good faith from the Lakers organization as West is one of Bryant’s closest companions. He also has a keen eye for talent, which will help the Lakers come draft time.
4. Draft Wisely
Whatever draft pick the Lakers end up with they have an opportunity to get Bryant immediate help. This is said to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory and perhaps the deepest since the exceptional 2003 draft. General manager Mitch Kupchak will have a lot of work to do. There is a lot of good young talent, but the Lakers must find someone who can fit in right away.
3. Maintain a Consistent Rotation
The Lakers lineup seems to change on a daily basis. One night Robert Sacre is starting and the next night Jordan Hill is starting. Chris Kaman goes from playing 20 minutes a game to playing zero minutes. Is it just me, or does it seem like every time Xavier Henry gets hot he is taken out of the game? Injuries have understandably forced head coach Mike D’Antoni to alter his lineup, but there has to be some form of consistency in the rotation in order for the team to be successful. Every game it seems like D’Antoni goes with a different starting lineup. He may be trying to find the right rotation, but he is losing his players’ trust in the process.
2. Fire Mike D'Antoni
Imagine what the Lakers would look like right now if Phil Jackson was coaching the team. Ponder what the last few years would have looked like if Brian Shaw was originally hired. It’s hard to say whether Bryant would be closer to a championship, but it’s easy to say that whatever’s going on now is not working.
It is evident that D’Antoni loves to coach offense. Being a good defensive team was a concept that flew out the window the moment D’Antoni was hired. With that being known, his offense flourished through a point guard who could break down a defense to free up shooters. The Lakers have capable shooters but don’t have anyone to get them open shots.
The Lakers have been hit by the injury bug, losing Nash, Farmar and Blake for a significant amount of time. D’Antoni is relying on Bryant to run the offense which is a tall task for a lifelong scorer coming off of a devastating injury. Not only is he asking Bryant to be the assist man, but there is no backup point guard available to spell his minutes! Depending on Henry and Jodie Meeks to run an offense can get troublesome very quickly.
When Bryant tore his Achilles tendon last season a lot of the blame was placed on D’Antoni, who was playing him heavy minutes and asking too much out of him. Once again, D’Antoni is asking a lot out of the aging superstar. I wouldn’t want to be him if Bryant goes down one more time.
1. Let Jeanie Buss Run the Show
If there is one competent person to take over for the late Dr. Jerry Buss it would be his daughter, Jeanie Buss. Jeanie is not only the most qualified person to head the Lakers organization, being the most similar to her father, but she is bound to do a better job than her brother Jim Buss. Things haven’t been so great since Jim took over as Executive Vice President of Player Personnel of the Lakers. He isn’t as knowledgeable as Jeanie nor does he have a grasp on what it takes to be the owner of an NBA franchise.
He didn’t want Jackson to coach the team because he is his sister’s fiancée. He supported the hiring of D’Antoni, who clearly wasn’t a good fit for Dwight Howard at the time. His decision making has been questionable to say the least. To be frank, Jim Buss is better off rooting from the sideline.