May 21, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) takes a shot while being defended by Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (15) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Lakers Must Rebuild To Compete With Thunder

After tonight we’ll only be two games into the 2012 NBA Finals and no matter the outcome nothing will officially be decided. Sure, there will be those eager to author the epic fail that is the Miami Heat. Others will begin the coronation of a new dynasty led by Kevin Durant. Either way it’s a clear indication that the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t nearly as close to competing as Kobe Bryant might think.

This is not something I take lightly as a Laker fan and it pains me to even think it let alone type: The Los Angeles Lakers need to rebuild.

In case you’ve been hibernating since the dramatic Game 7 win over the C’s in 2010 then maybe you aren’t aware of how far removed the Lakers are from being legit title contenders.

Here are some facts for you to digest. For two years running the Lake Show has been bounced out in the second round of the playoffs. In each instance they’ve lost to the eventual Western Conference champion. The Lakers have won just one of nine contests against those foes.

That’s how close L.A. is to competing and should the Thunder take their first ever Larry O’Brien then the gap between the Lakers and the OKC will only widen. Durant and company are being built to compete for years. The Lakers, with Kobe, are being asked to win now.

You tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with the scenario is that the Lakers aren’t even in the same county as the elite teams of the NBA.

What’s wrong is this Laker squad is no longer one transaction or two away from competing again.

What’s wrong is Oklahoma City’s window is wide open while L.A.’s is being held open by a paperclip.

What’s wrong is a veteran player like Metta World Peace thinks the Lakers are closer to competing than they really are because they gave OKC a little bit of trouble.

By the way, there is no such thing as a close five game series unless it’s a beast of five. Last time I checked the Thunder had to beat the Lakers four times in seven yet needed only five games to do so. I don’t care if the Lakers could have/should have won a couple of those contests. They didn’t.

Even worse news is that the Lakers have struggled just get out of the first round the last two years. There’s a trend emerging and you might not notice it but there’s an arrow facing downward next to the Lakers.

Trying to pull of another trade or getting some discounted vet to commit to a title run is no longer enough to get the Lakers back to the top of the West. That ship sailed when Mitch Kupchak pulled off his first miracle as a GM by turning Kwame Brown into Pau Gasol. This time around Kupchak would have to unlock the mysteries of time travel in order to salvage what’s left of Kobe’s career. Either that or figure out a way to turn Gasol, a future draft pick and a trade exception into Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Deron Williams. Even then I still don’t think there’s enough on the roster to compete with OKC.

It pains me to say this because I fully realize Kobe still has plenty left in the tank and Andrew Bynum is reaching elite status. But that isn’t enough to go toe-to-toe with a young, athletic and hungry squad like the Thunder.

Yes, the time has to hit the reset button and start all over. We’ve never seen a full rebuild in Los Angeles so this will be shocking. However, in three years, when the Thunder are no longer able to afford all their stars and the Lakers have worked diligently to rid themselves of bad contracts while sniffing out top tier young talent then we can reignite the title talk. Until then we’re stuck looking up at the Thunder no matter what ultimately happens in the 2012 Finals.

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Deron Williams Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Kwame Brown Metta World Peace Michael Kidd-gilchrist Mitch Kupchak Pau Gasol

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