I disagree, Shaq was in major decline , we would have had to replace Malone and Rick Fox, plus other guys like Horry had lost a step, Fisher would have still left.
Shaq was no longer as great as he was.... I think people FORGET that Shaq and Kobe played 7 years already and Shaq was 32+ when he left.
I'm truly of the belief that we win a championship the next year if Shaq had kept his ego in check and bowed out gracefully and trained hard for the Twilight of his career.
He did it for all of 2 of the 3 seasons in Miami as a way to try to "get even" with us.
If he had kept his ego in check and handed the reigns over and "got in shape" rather than trying to prove he could dominate giving a half effort in training then I don't see how the Lakers don't win 2 Championships following. The next season especially.