Thursday, June 23, 2011
'CHIPS OFF THE TRADING BLOCK
Three hands the Lakers shouldn't be so quick to deal.
By Tim David Harvey
Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Andre Igudola. These are all incredible talents and players that could take the Lake Show in a new direction but still with all the trade talk, rumour and speculation the Laker players linked with a move seem to be too good to lose. Despite some problems this year the Lakers frontcourt tandem of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom remain some of the best, most gifted players the league has to offer. So why are Los Angeles so eager to pack their bags and send them on their way to LAX, hitting the road like Ray Charles or fouled out Jack's at STAPLES? Sure the loss to this years champion Dallas revealed some difficulties but putting these players on the block, even two at a time for potential new players (no matter how good they are) just doesn't seem right. The punishment doesn't fit the crime. Lets investigate why.
EXHIBIT A: PAU GASOL
The player that the Lakers fans seem most eager to get rid of is the one guy that took the Lakers from the basement to the high-rises of back-to-back championships. Now you don't have to be called Alanis to know that that's ironic. Pau Gasol is arguably the most important Laker of the last five years. Don't you think? Sure this years Pau's play in the Western semi's was not on full but he was riddled with personal trouble. Now I know that these matters should be left at the door with basketball, as he should have been leaving it all on the floor but still sometimes things are too much and get the better of even the strongest minds.
That's a key word right there, 'strong'. Pau's other 'problem' is that he's been labelled 'soft' for years. The matter of this fiction however is that just because he's European and skilled doesn't make him less able to bang inside with the leagues best bigs. SLAM magazine said it best in a feature titled 'Soft As A Rock'. After his first Laker year loss to Boston Pau toughened up to the level of guys like Kevin Garnett and he can more then hold his own against hulking Adonis' like Dwight Howard...just not in the trade market it seems.
It's also Gasol's serious skill-set that helps him gas up the Lakers offence. Back in the day Shaq was renowned for his perfect passing (probably because it seemed unusual coming from such a big), but Pau's precision is taken at read and even ignored. Plus from Olive Oil armed post-moves (those biceps have some Popeye spinach) to fancy footwork and a never back-down, post-championship attitude this guy has it all. Plus from strong dunks, stares and screams to a nice shot, Pau's unpredictable game is what gives the Lakers offence it's most potency and power. How could you even trade the guy that helped the Lakers almost three-peat? Without him forget about starting a new one.
EXHIBIT B: LAMAR ODOM
The Lakers most dynamic and versatile all-round player was also L.A.'s most consistent performer in last years up and down season...and the Lakers want to trade him? This is the NBA's current 'Sixth Man Of The Year'. A player so good he should start, a player so good he can cover all positions, lead and/or follow...and Minnesota have apparently rejected a package deal with him as part? They can count on another early vacation next season.
Still it's key that the Lakers keep their love for Lamar and not Kevin. For example looking at another special K, the Lakers once went after Kevin Garnett only to be beaten by Boston. Now who would you rather have today K.G. or L.O.? See right now the reality is that there is no one in the league quite like Mr. Kardashian. Sure he's not a top scorer, (he's not even close on his own team) but he can put up big numbers all over the board, at any position, pick your poison. Just imagine if more plays where ran for him on the white board.
Sure his selfless attitude is his gift and his curse. He may be even more of a Hollywood star these days if he swore by being all-for-self, but it's his giving, team-first nature that have helped the Lakers receive a one-of-a-kind player. Sure he's not the best player his city or league has to offer, but so what, that's not up for debate here. Besides he's probably the most skilled Laker since Magic. From the D, to the showtime break, the passes to the finishes, this is no trick. Just ask Pat Riley. Now if the Lakers want to stay all-round. They got to keep their all-time guy. Not only should this guy (finally) be an All-Star next year. He should be a Laker too.
EXHIBIT C: ANDREW BYNUM
The way Andrew Bynum tore off his jersey following the Lakers sweep out the playoffs this year you'd be forgiven if you thought that maybe he didn't want to be a Laker anymore. Still this young big and his team would do good by each other to find the kid a new jersey that still reads 'Lakers'. Sure Bynum is prone to going down on one knee, but his incredible talent has been groomed for years and is now in a perfect matrimony of the numbers 20 and 10. So let's not make this guy an outcast via a Hollywood divorce.
'Drew is not just one of the West's best, he's one of the leagues greatest centre's, even if Yao and Oden are healthy. He's also one of the association's last 'true' centres. He eased Los Angeles' 'Shaqless' pain and now as the former strongest position in basketball is dying off. The Lakers shouldn't kill the purple and gold reign of one of this generations best breeds. Even Kobe knows the Lakers shouldn't ship Bynum out.
Not when a healthy Andrew can help them set sail and get back on the right championship course. Right now Andrew's still a young gun and for a couple of seasons and a few more now he's been sunk by injury, but still when he's returned he's really shown he's back in more ways then one. The numbers just add up. Now imagine if he could play a full season healthy, because it's coming. Without 'Drew sometimes the Lakers are overdrawn, having to be in debt to Gasol playing centre, but with him their more then out the red. They've even overcome the green of Boston for the championship gold with Bynum's inside knowledge. Bynum puts the colour back into the purples reign. Without him this contender may see even darker days.
I know they say if it's broke don't fix it, but in this case the Lakers repair should come from within and without a wrecking ball, even if the experts think a demolition is in order. Although their frontcourt trio had their troubles that led to the Lakers falling apart, they still shouldn't be considered 'damaged goods'. These iron men shouldn't even be considered dented tins as they really have made their mark on this franchise in the form of engravings with previous championship engagements. Without these guys the Lakers probably wouldn't be where they are now and even though it's not the best place, it's one not far removed from Larry O'Brien territory.
Sometimes change isn't the best thing. Sometimes it's better if things stay the same. It's better to re-group, re-tool and most importantly get together. Pau, Lamar and Andrew are the parts that will help the Lakers do this. This frontcourt tandem is formidable, consistent and proven and before all that they work hard and never give up, quietly going about their business. As everyone else continues to talk trash, these guys games speak louder volumes. Check the books, before the Lakers put them on the block they should think of the 'chips they've brought. These championship certified veterans need fresh legs in the form of rest and not new sneaker fillers. This Laker dynasty is not dead yet.