HOOPSWORD.COM: Early indications are that the Los Angeles Lakers will be making a concerted effort to vastly improve their roster this summer. “I just told [Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak] this summer’s about getting us to an elite level, doing whatever it takes to make it happen,” Kobe Bryant said on Friday. “This is a competitive city. We’re used to winning titles, not just winning games and being in the first round. We want to win championships. Now’s the time.”The operative word Bryant used is “elite” and he went ahead and defined what that word means. “I don’t play for anything but a championship,” he said. “When I re-signed here, they promised that they would build a contender and build a contender now. I don’t want to have to wait anymore than I already have,” he said.
Championship talk is great, but lasting longer in the playoffs than Day Break is probably where this needs to start.
“Obviously there’s a window,” Bryant said. “I feel fine physically. The important thing to me is winning now. It’s not waiting, this, that and the other.”
Keeping that window open is going to require the Lakers to get creative and for ownership to do two things that they’ve been reluctant to do – trade Andrew Bynum and pay a luxury tax.
With Laker fans dreaming of Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O’Neal and with Bryant all but demanding one of them (he does, after all, have the option of leaving as a free agent after two more seasons), people seem to be thinking that a combination of Bryant with one of those low-post stalwarts would immediately put the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Looking at the Houston Rockets’ tandem of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming shows that things aren’t so simple.
The days of two stars taking a team to the pinnacle of basketball seem to be over. Looking at the eight teams remaining the playoffs, all of them are built as solid teams with several options on offense. The Nets have Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd, and Vince Carter. Detroit can throw Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace at you. The Spurs roll with Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan. The Suns cast includes Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, and Amare Stoudemire.
Success in the NBA means having great pocket cards and a complimentary flop, two stars with a group of very good players around them.
In order for the Lakers to join those ranks, to be a championship-contending squad, they need Lamar Odom.