If Bryant were healthy enough to start on opening night, the Lakers would be an interesting team. You can never count them out as long as the Vino is around. But with no timetable for when he may return to game action – and just as importantly, not knowing whether he can come back as half the player that he was last season – things appear to look rather bleak.
The good news is that Steve Nash and Pau Gasol – the two catalysts that will have to hold the fort until Bryant returns – are healthy and will look to play a major role after taking a step back last season. Nash, in particular, will look to handle much of the offense that he so brilliantly orchestrated while in Phoenix, but he’s 39 and there is no telling whether his body can handle the rigors of being one of the main options in an NBA offense at this point in his career. Gasol will look to re-establish himself as the go-to man down low, but it will be interesting to see if he’s ultimately the right player for Mike D’Antoni’s system.
Other than those two and maybe Chris Kaman, what they currently have on the roster are a whole bunch of role players who are mostly interested in playing offense but not so much on the defensive end. Some may try (Steve Blake, for example) but simply aren’t capable of holding it down against superior competition. How this group meshes in the regular season remains to be seen, but after seeing them in action on Tuesday, the now-retired Tracy McGrady doesn’t seem to have much faith:
Sitting here watching the Lakers, and I feel sorry for my boy Jellybean when he comes back!
— Tracy McGrady (@Real_T_Mac) October 23, 2013
In not so many words and not so subtly, McGrady pretty much managed to insult the entire Lakers roster. Although the Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 108-94, he clearly saw some things that left plenty to be desired. There are definitely question marks heading into the regular season, and it remains to be seen just how sorry the former All-Star will feel for Bryant when he returns.
James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. Find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.