|Andrew Bynum says changes could come for the Lakers after the Grammy's trip. (Getty Images)|
The Lakers are not their usual dominant selves. They're good, improving to 13-9 after a thumping of the Bobcats Tuesday night. But there is a prevailing sense that after losing Lamar Odom and some changes in roster through free agency as well as the new coaching regime, they are not the usual favorites. There was, of course, the Chris Paul trade which fell through, and rumors relating to Dwight Howard persist.
But there have been no changes. Yet.
ESPN spoke with Andrew Bynum, who says that depending on how the Grammy's trip goes, the Lakers may not be the same team when they get back from the six-gmae trip as they are when they get on the plane. From ESPN:
"If we do well on this, then we'll be the team we need to be," Andrew Bynum said. "If we don't, then they might start looking around."via Daily Dime - ESPN.
Lakers coach Mike Brown confirmed reports that the team has been in touch with Gilbert Arenas, whose sole duties of late have been cashing the checks Orlando keeps sending his way after using the amnesty provision on the remainder of his contract. Arenas believes the Lakers want to see what type of shape he is in before making a commitment, according to a source.
The Lakers need to make a move. Kobe Bryant only has so many years left, even with his scoring output and spring in his knees. Pau Gasol's on the slide. They need to make one more run and set themselves up for the future. Bryant is owed $30 millions by the end of his contract, which means either the Lakers will be surrounding him with very little support, or a trade or amnesty will be in order to avoid death by luxury tax. Not even the Lakers can afford that kind of bill. The time is now. If they can't pull this team into a position to look like the unbeatable team it's seemed in the past four seasons (despite the epic meltdown in the second round last year vs. eventual champion Dallas), they need to face the reality and make a move. They'll always have leverage as the most popular place to play. They need to exert it.
Arenas has been talked about for a week now. He's not going to come in and be the difference maker, though. He can produce, and have some scoring nights. Certainly having a limited role will help. But his body simply can't give what the Habachi used to cook up.
That said, the Lakers' trip only includes one legitimate contender in Denver, with the Celtics' slide and Philadelphia still largely untested. There's a good chance they rack up the wins, puff up the record, and settle in for the long wait till the trade deadline. Then, no matter how well the team is doing, the Dwight Howard scenario will be in full effect, and the drama will only get louder in Hollywood.