There was no doubt in many people’s minds coming into this NBA regular season that the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers would be a serious force to be reckoned with once again as they have the same team relatively intact and were more ready to send off Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson with a record 12th NBA title.
Even though was the consensus around the league that the Miami Heat would be the team to beat in the NBA this season after acquiring both LeBron James and Chris Bosh while re-signing superstar Dwyane Wade, the Los Angeles Lakers came out firing on all cylinders in the first month of the NBA regular season and looked near unstoppable at times.
Not only was Kobe Bryant playing at a very high level once again and apparently healthy, but the team as a whole was just clicking on both ends of the floor. The one player that seemed to be surprising everyone was forward Lamar Odom. After his time with team USA in the off-season, Odom seem to have turned into a different player and much more confident and ready to help this team pull off the three-peat.
Unfortunately, as the season started to wear on the Los Angeles Lakers started to show signs of weakness, especially on the defensive side of the floor. With their recent struggles, a lot of people started to speculate about the age of this team as the average was 30 years old.
Obviously, teams like the San Antonio Spurs have been unaffected by the collective age as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have been able to get the job done this season and turn the team into arguably the best in the league. With that being said, I believe the Lakers problem this year is lack of motivation.
With three straight NBA Finals appearances and more games played than any other team in the NBA over the past three years, the Los Angeles Lakers are simply fatigued and finding it hard to get that motivation factor back as they know that the only time they really need to play solid team basketball is playoff time.
Even though the NBA doesn’t have 162 game schedule like the MLB, 82 games +16 or more playoff games can still take its toll on the team especially when some of the players don’t stop there and play for their national team in the off-season.
At seem like the two-time defending champs needs no excuses as no great team does, but with the recent lack of motivation and the fact that they’re losing the teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers shows that maybe a trade would be the best thing for this storied franchise.
One trade rumors that has been floating around Los Angeles has been involving Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony. The deal would reportedly send center Andrew Bynum to the Mile High City in exchange for the All-Star forward. There would almost certainly be other players in this deal, but Bynum would be at the core.
With the New Jersey Nets looking like they have the advantage right now in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, the Los Angeles Lakers might have to look elsewhere if they do intend on making a trade before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 24.
Another deal that was supposedly in the works was the Lakers sending defensive specialist Ron Artest to the Bobcats in exchange for Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace. In my opinion, this deal would have been a steal for the Lakers as they would almost certainly improve their club drastically with the addition of Jackson or Wallace, but the deal fell through.
So at this point it is uncertain whether or not Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will actually pull the trigger on a trade before the deadline, but with this recent loss to the Cavaliers heading into the All-Star break, it has become obvious that something needs to change if this team expects to three-peat.