What player on the Lakers current roster could be capable of breakout year next season?
CC: Jordan Hill. He was injured for a big part of the season, but when he was healthy, he played well. In the 29 games he played in this season, he averaged 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds (2.9 of them being offensive). His Per 36 Minutes (estimating what he would average if he played 36 minutes a game), were a nice 15.2 points and 13 rebounds, while shooting 49.7 percent clip. He only played about 16 minutes a game, so if he plays more than that next season, expect some better numbers from him.
FR: Earl Clark. He should flashes during his stint as a starter earlier in the year then faded away towards the end of the season. A year of working on his game and I can see him having a big supporting role on this team next year.
SG: Andrew Goudelock. The second season point guard has been spectacular in the D-League this season, winning MVP and putting up numbers of 21.1 points per game and 5.2 assists per game on an efficient 48 percent shooting. On his twitter page Sunday, Metta World Peace said that Goudelock was the second best scorer on the Lakers roster. No… not the roster that played yesterday. The whole roster. I wouldn’t be as bold as Metta to say that Goudelock is as good a scorer as Pau or Dwight, but it says something about his teammates respecting a young player that much. His ability to drive the basket or drain spot-up jumpers just screams “potential” every time you watch him.
CS: Jordan Hill appears in the verge of becoming a much bigger part of this puzzle next season. Depending on how the chips fall Hill could become a fulltime starter in L.A. where he could finally emerge as a productive player.
DN: Earl Clark. He has the tools and recently stated that he would like to remain with the team, but his consistency is suspect
What potential trades or free agents should the Lakers pursue this offseason?
CC: I have one trade in my mind: Pau Gasol for Jeff Green. The trade works straight up according the NBA Trade Machine on ESPN, but one team might require other pieces. This trade would be good for both teams. The Celtics would get a good big, which would be needed if/when Kevin Garnett retires. The Lakers would get rid of Gasol’s huge contract, and they would get younger. This also would allow them to amnesty Metta World Peace. With the cap space they save, they could go after Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks. A lineup of Nash/Blake (Kobe when healthy)/Jeff Green/Josh Smith/Dwight Howard is deadly.
FR: The only player on the Lakers roster that has any trade value is Pau Gasol and it is likely he will be moved for pieces. I don’t believe Pau has enough trade value to get a star player in return, like a Kevin Love, but, it should be enough to get a collection of good young players with talent. The only way I see Pau staying on this team is if Dwight Howard bails.
SG: First and foremost, I think they need to resign Dwight Howard. Although he didn’t have a great 12-13 campaign by his own standards, he’s still the best center in basketball when healthy and in my opinion is the future of the franchise. Secondly, they need to add youth. I’ll propose three names: Josh Smith, Corey Brewer, and Tony Allen. All three can bring athleticism and defense to the Lakers and all three are unrestricted free agents. The only problem with Josh Smith is that they may need to trade or amnesty Pau Gasol to make such a signing. J-Smoove is pretty close to a max-contract guy and with the Lakers salary situation, they’d need to dump money to get him.
CS: At this point there isn’t the cap room nor the bargaining chips in place to help this team in the immediate future. Kupchak and Jim Buss were foolish to deal away so many draft picks for past-their-prime players. At this point moving the likes of Pau Gasol for future picks is about all I can see happening in the earth shaking category this offseason, well, that or a Dwight Howard sign and trade.
DN: Can’t stand Dwight Howard at this point, but the Lakers should keep him if they can. He’s the only championship-caliber talent they have to build on. The Lakers need an overhaul for talent, but it won’t happen. Look for a trade or amnesty of Gasol. If they could just get a decent bench out of it I would be content.
If Kobe Bryant were to miss the first half of next season, would the Lakers still be able to contend?
CC: This is an impossible question to answer because we have no idea what the roster is going to look like next season. If the Lakers bring the roster they currently have back, I believe they will be able to contend. A healthy roster with Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Jordan Hill isn’t a championship contender, but it is a playoff contender. Without Kobe, being in playoff contention is all you can ask for.
FR: That is too difficult of a question without knowing what the rest of the roster looks like. Does Dwight come back? Is Pau here or did the Lakers trade him for young talent? If so, what did the Lakers get back for Pau? If the Lakers can make the right roster moves and resign Dwight then yes, the Lakers can survive half a season without Kobe.
SG: I don’t think they could. They’d need a long sequence of off-season moves and injury-free play to put themselves in a position to contend anyway. If Bryant’s return is delayed until around February, I don’t think they could rebuild team chemistry in time the way that is necessary to compete in the postseason. The Mamba really needs to be back towards the beginning of the season, and I’ve got a pretty good feeling that he will be.
CS: Well… no.
DN: If Kobe coming back midseason doesn’t have a Stoudemire-like effect on whatever chemistry the team has developed, then yes.
Be sure to sound off in the comments section and let us know YOUR answer to these questions.