HOOPSWORLD.COM: LAKERS: Whether or not the Lakers had a successful offseason probably depends on who you ask. They did keep free agent Luke Walton, they lost Smush Parker to the Miami Heat, signed veteran Derek Fisher, and added rookies Javaris Crittenton (who played very well in summer league) and Coby Karl. On paper that seems like some decent upgrades, especially at point guard.
Of course, if you ask Kobe Bryant you likely will get a very different answer – and he’s right. None of the changes or additions the Lakers made will have that big of an impact in the standings. Last season the team won 42 games and squeaked into the playoffs, largely by riding Kobe’s strong shoulders. If Crittenton and Fisher give the Lakers consistent point guard play and Lamar Odom plays a full season, perhaps the Lakers will be better – but on nominally.
If Bryant was promised a contender – and no general manager should ever make a promise like that just to make a free agent stay – then yes, he absolutely has something to be annoyed about. The Lakers absolutely need a healthy and happy Bryant to make this season a success – and that starts from day one when players report to training camp. If Bryant is there this team will be roughly the same as last year, unless Crittenton and Andrew Bynum provide a much bigger than expected boost.
If Bryant doesn’t show up, the Lakers may as well start planning for the 2008 NBA Draft.