After the deadline: The challenges are ahead

Interesting article that breaks down the challenges the Lakers approach.

ESPN Los Angeles: Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the Lakers have officially settled on the 13 players they hope will bring the franchise a second straight championship. If they seem familiar, it’s because they’re the same 13 guys management was banking on Wednesday afternoon, too.

To paraphrase the great Norman Dale, their team is on the floor.

The Lakers, though, are hardly playing four-on-five. At 42-13, they’re six games ahead of Denverfor the top seed in the Western Conference, are very much in the fight with Cleveland for the best record in basketball, and remain a favorite to win another title.

But with things more or less finalized (save an unlikely free agent signing) from a personnel standpoint, it’s a good time to look and see where the weak spots exist.

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Washington’s fire sale has changed the landscape for the Lakers.

Dallas is better with Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, and more importantly, the Cavs were able to get Antawn Jamison for (once Zydrunas Ilgauskas is bought out by Washington) virtually nothing of value. And while Jamison may not have the same marquee value of Amar’e Stoudemire, there is also far less chance he’ll screw with Cleveland’s successful formula.

Dallas likely still isn’t good enough to beat L.A. in a seven game series, but Cleveland already has knocked off the Lakers twice this year, and seems to match up well. Meanwhile, Denver didn’t make a move, but has shown the ability to knock off the champs, beating them soundly in the first two meetings of the season. In short, the road to repeat isn’t going to be easy. I’m not sure who said it would be, but it won’t.

So should the Lakers have done something?

No, or at least not because the opposition did. The worst trade is generally the knee-jerk reaction to another team’s deal (see O’Neal, Shaquille to Phoenix). It is much easier to make an elite team worse than to improve it with a high-profile deal. The Lakers had more wants than needs at the deadline, and the needs would have been tough to fill without risking damage to the core of the roster. Cleveland’s acquisition of Jamison might make it harder for the Lakers to beat them. So be it. That can’t be a reason to make a trade.

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