January 11th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

How can L.A. Lakers rescue losing season?

Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers have lost 20 games this season. (Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers have lost 20 games this season. (Getty Images)

It’s hard to be a Los Angeles Lakers fan these days.

Our team, the one that was supposed to win an NBA title this year, can barely win a game. Once we talked about posting the best record in NBA history; now we openly wonder whether we’ll post a winning record at all.

Still, I don’t expect any sympathy.

This is what it’s like to be a fan of the Lakers: You are over three times more likely to see your team win the NBA title than miss the playoffs entirely.

Almost half of our seasons have ended in June, at the NBA Finals; this year, our season could end in April.

We’re spoiled by success. And that success is fuelled by a franchise that has consistently made the right moves at the right time.

There were the aggressive trades that brought in Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Pau Gasol. The inspired drafts of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Magic Johnson. The signing of free agent Shaquille O’Neal.

And then there was the time the Lakers took a chance on a skinny 17 year-old who came to the NBA straight out of high school: Kobe Bryant.

That is why, when I worry about my Lakers, rival fans show absolutely no sympathy. The Lakers, they sigh, always find a way to win.

Except, this time, I don’t really see one. Not an easy one, anyway.

What can the Lakers do? Standard practice when a team in any sport is struggling is, of course, to fire the coach. But the Lakers already did that: Mike Brown was fired just five games into the season and replaced with Mike D’Antoni.

How about a big trade? For months now, there has been talk of Pau Gasol moving on. But that suggests someone else wants Gasol badly enough to offer someone valuable in exchange. And as much as I love Pau Gasol (and I do), I struggle to see who would want an expensive 32 year-old who has declined in virtually every major statistical category this season.

No, nobody’s coming to save this team, no magic trade, no clever coaching change. This mess needs to be resolved on the court. They will somehow need to find a way to win, and win now.

The Lakers cannot afford to waste time. I do mean that literally: This line-up is too expensive to keep together. And this team is old. Kobe is in his 17th season. Steve Nash will be 39 next month.

There’s also no guarantee Dwight Howard will still be a Laker next year. Howard is a free agent after this season. It was widely assumed that he would sign a new deal with the Lakers and become the leader of the franchise when Kobe retires in the next few seasons.
But given the mess the Lakers are currently in, could you blame Howard for finding a better situation?

When Howard joined the Lakers in the summer, we thought we had a team that was ready to make history.

Sadly, we were right: In over sixty years as an NBA franchise, the Lakers have missed the playoffs just five times. This could be the year we make it six.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. jumpingpolarbear

    I think they will be better in 3 months when they know each other better, but they need to click earlier, or else they won't even make the playoffs!

    January 11, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
  2. Fernando Carbajal

    To me it seem obvious that just a as New York slowed down tempo and focused on defense after dantoni left ...we have to do the same.

    Sometimes Nash can penetrate others Kobe can penetrate ando other be the shoters! Definately we have to start down low, inside out...we an run when the numbers are there but the fast paced is not suited for this team and is not a winning formula in the playoffs.

    The rotation should include 2 groups we have almost 5 altars so mix at all times old with young, always Dwight or Paul and Kobe or Nash focusing on defense.

    Our goal should be not to score over 100 but to allow 80 per game! Change de focus to defense and the offense will come alone by talent and experience! If we need to bring a defensive specialist lets do it, but something not complex we have abundant talent use it don't kill it by complicating the game!

    January 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  3. CeeGee

    The Lakers will win as soon as they stop listening to Antoni and play some defense. Jim Buss was idiot to step over Phil and hire this dunce!

    January 11, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  4. don sullivan

    Is it too late to fire this coach and bring in Phil? Ok that’s not happening. But what management can do is tell the world this is our team, win or lose its Kobe, Pau, Dwight, Nash, and MWP. No trades! And we’re turning our ball hog Kobe loose!

    January 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  5. pardonthepun-dit

    ..and this is the year Kobe also thought he could make it 6......rings that is...

    January 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  6. StellarNormalCraft

    All the people that are in the Lakers are good players but if they don't understand each other better they wont probably go in to the play offs.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  7. Destini Jackson

    i think we all need to motivate them. We are all a team and have to start playing like one if we want to continue to make history. I for one will always be a LA Lakers fan, but i certainly don't like to lose! They need to work on defense, alittle on offense, teamwork, cooperation and those powerful, out of nowhere shoys we are used to doing. They better step it up NOW!!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  8. elemental1424

    If the Lakers want a spot in the playoffs they are gonna have to step up there game. Alout of the games in this next month are road games. And as we all know road games are alout tougher then home games. So if they want a spot they need to play hard D.

    January 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  9. TUMWINE Charles

    L.A has bounced back on afew occasions,and this time round Iam sure they will.
    Go Lakers!!!!

    January 17, 2013 at 8:45 am | Reply
  10. peterhermann

    Dwight Howard needs bring his heart to the game and not stand around like he has fallen asleep. Kobe needs to decide a bit faster wether to pass or create a shot for himself... seems like he is holding staring contests with the defenders, while the clock goes tic toc. BUT they will make it to the playoffs and surprise the daylights out of everyone.... but it might be with Bickerstaff again.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  11. Dark Josh

    Lakers are already beginning to show hard proof that they really are as bad as their record says

    January 25, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply

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